Not sure if this should fall under blogs or here. I recently started trying to grow hops hydroponically. I'm new to hydroponics. I've been updating every couple of days - but definetly need advice along the way..
here's what I've got so far.
I've seen a lot of interest on the internet about the idea of growing hops hydroponically indoors. The only confirmation I have found is an abstract from a research group that successfully grew hops hydroponically OUTDOORS. I wanted to try this experienment 2 years ago before I joined the military, but didn't have enough time or funds before I joined.
Last weekend a fellow Platoon Leader in our Company and I got together and brewed both of our first batches of beer in a long time. When we picked up the brew supplies the brew store just so happened to have some tettanger rhizones lying around.
This idea, and interest has never left the vualt of my mind, so I picked up the hop rhizones. Figured I'll build this one as it goes.
I dropped the rhizones into a 3 gallon rubbermaid tub with an airstone hooked up to an air pump. I used a metal dish dry rack, cut and tweeked, to keep the rhizones just above the water.
Within a week new roots have began to form and the first shoots have started shooting upward.
here's a picture of what I'm calling the 'rooter'.
This weekend I realized that over the next week the first shoots are about to get too tall, and need some light.
so here's the update.
went to a local hydroponics store. Bought a submersible pump and mister. Mesh bucket, 150watt HPS. Some root hormone, and blu moon grow. went over to target and bought a 45 gallon rubbermaid. I wanted to get a 55gal or larger, but could not find one. My reasoning for a larger rubbermaid is that I have read online of people growing hops outdoors in a 55gal pot. 45gals is going to have do for this experiement.
I cut a hole slightly smaller than the mesh bucket/cup in the lid of the rubbermaid. Attached the bucket to the lid. dropped the pump/mister into the bottom. Added 14 gallons of water and root/grow nutrients into the bottom. Hung the light, and am awaiting next week to add/do more.
I want to throw some sort of medium into the bucket to cover the rhizones when I take the makeshift lid off to let the shoots emerge.
I still need to get the chicken wire and make some sort of platform to hold the chicken wire (scrog). I intend on getting a 250watt MH (i'm still debating wether or not to just get another HPS instead of MH - MH is good for vegative, but HPS is better for bloom. The floro's supposedly help add to the aroma and flavor due to their mimmicking of the suns rays.)
My camera is at work, so next week I'll bring it home, take some pics and update.
I bought another submersible pump (264 gph) and with a few rubber caps and what not converted into a second mister.
I also bought another mesh bucket to seperate the two rhizones I have in order to fill up the chicken wire more evenly and quicker.
While there I also bought some 'root balls' basically to act a grow medium to cover the rhizones from the light to protect them from drying out.
the system seems to be much improved with these additions. I am getting much better misting capabilities with 600+ gph being circulated. I am hoping that having the second grow bucket allows me to fill up the chicken wire at a faster pace, thus shortening the vegative period. The rhizones seemed a little dry to my liking before adding the root balls and second pump. I also bought a set of light hangers that will allow me to easily raise or lower the light, unfortunately they won't come in untill monday.
the shoots seem to be responding very well to these new additions. Here is a pic from yesterday.
and a few pics from today for comparison.
with these phone pictures it's kind of hard to see, but the main shoot has thickened, greened, and started to produce its first leaflets at it's first node, and the top of the shoot has now surpassed it's second node.
the shoots have now been exposed to light for a little over 24 hours.
this pic isnt quite as good, but you can now see that the addition of the second pump is getting more mist into the mesh buckets wich should aid the young stage that these rhizones are in. hopefully.
allright, last picture update with the Camera Phone.. tomorrow it's back to work and I'll bring home the digi cam.
I picked up my 'sunlift' light mounts, and have already fallen in love with them. these light mounts allow you to easily move the light up or down.
not really a cool pic or anything, but hey, atleast there it is for reference.
allright, the main growth changes over the past 24 hours has been the development of the first leaves, and the shoots turning darker green from white. for reference
and here they are today....
and rhizone number 2
it's hard to see in the last pic, but even the shorter shoots are all starting to develop their first set of leaves.
the comparison pic of the tall shoot really shows wear the growth has been focused on over the past 24 hours.. those original leaves are laying out and soakin in some rays.
This weekend I'll build the 'scrog' chicken wire trainer, and hopefully shortly after that i'll pick up some much needed more wattage for these lil guys.
I'm fighting the urge to try and get a peak at the roots of the rhizone's to see how their doing.. for now, though, better left undisturbed.
that's everything I've got so far.. I will update again later on in the week with my digi cam. I am basically doing an 'aeroponics' set up combined with a 'scrog' set up. The concept is to grow a plant that normally gets much larger in a smaller space while still producing good yeilds.
one thing that does concern me is the need for vernalization in hops grown outdoor. I know other perenials are grown hydroponically with no problem. So this should be interesting to see how it turns out.
my theory is that I should be able to produce hops at an effecient time/space manner. Worst case scenario, I may have developed a great hop rhizone producer.
any thoughts suggestions are welcome. and hopes to bring hop growing to those who couldn't before.
I am really hoping to learn a lot from the other growers here, especially on the issue of 'vernalization' which is what I believe will cause the largest set of problems in my set up. I have read that vernalization might not be 'neccessary' as there are many hop growers who have been successfull in climates that never meet the
recommended 3 degree's celcius over their winter months.
April 09 update.
Most of the new growth appears to be in producing leaves and thickening of the stems, not as much heighth. The rhizone in the left basket seems to be producing more shoots vs the rhizone in the right basket seems to have no new shoots developing. I believe this to be due to the left Rhizone being much larger (about 2-3 times as much
girth) than the other rhizone.
I was slightly disappointed in the growth over the last 24 hours until I reviewed pics from 3 days ago.
pic from 3 days ago...
pic from 2 days ago...
and finally the pics i took last night..
as you can see... much growth has been had.. thickening of the stem,leaves, etc.
the rhizone on the left with shorter but more shoots
there has also been much leaf development over here... for comparison
and an actual picture of the left rhizone from tonight...
as you can easily see, this rhizone is busting out shoots... harder to see in the pic but there some decent root development hiding in there as well..
Unfortunately, my peek at the rhizone displayed some white
fungus/mold growth that has my concern. This same rhizone displayed some fungus/mold before shortly after I started 'sprouting' it in the 'rooter'... i simply scraped it off at the time.. It looks like I might have to take some sort of more vigilant stand against it. the rhizone on the right which has never displayed any fungus/mold
problems continues not too.
I measured the distance of my light, it was about 8-9 inches from the top of the rubbermaid. I have moved it up to 15 inches to be with in the 10-18 inches normally recommended.
I have more plans for updating this system but will wait to digress them more until I do them and post up pics.
as of right now everything is pretty hassle free... i'm sure within a month or two I'm going to have a lot more on my hands to deal with.
11 APR 08 Update.
Will get pics later.
just to pass on info before I forget... I noticed some of the leaves seemed to be curling downward.. some lacked that 'fleshy' leaf feeling and one had some browning on the edges.
I'm assuming (leaf curl is usually either light/ph/over watering/or nute's related) that my curling and lack of vertical growth were related to the light being too low.. Since I have raised the light to about 18 inches (another three inches from the other day) the little sprouts have been shooting up.
I also read earlier today that you should not add nutes
to 'sprouting' plants.. wait until they have some maturity (a few weeks/4 or so sets of good leaves)... so realizing this, I have added in about 6 gallons of water to attempt to avoid any sort of nute burn. I am also factoring this into some of the leaf curl that I have seen.
I need to get a PH test kit/ppm/ec, and preferablly a water test that shows how hard or soft the water is as well, and about time I throw some thermometers in the mix as well... I'm kind violating some rule number 1's by not having those already. - but as I said, I'm kind of
throwing this together as I go.
Kind of annoying trying to figure out the PH I should be at.. I have read some 'family members' like PH around 5.2 - 5.8... In soil Hops go something around 6.5 - 8.0. Since Hydroponics is usually a little lower than soil preferances I'm going to shoot get a PH level of 6.0 to start off with... depending on how things look after I get the PH tester.
Another rookie mistake I've been making is going 24 hours on with the light at this young phase.. You can 24 hours a day (allowing the young plant to acclimate to light) when the plants are more mature, but even then there is a recommendation for some darkness every 24 hour period to allow photosynthesis to stop while sugars for growth are produced. So, we are giving the plants about six hours of shut eye tonight.
well, if anyone read all of that, and has any thoughts and suggestions... I appreciate the help. (been taking information from this site to help me.. so figured I owed it to you guys to post this experiement here.
thanks in advance.