Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hops Prunning Begins With a Final Note on Ramp Harvesting

It is time to start pruning my hops. I have started with Nuggets which are now 9 feet tall. The vines are about 3/8 in. in diameter at the base. I have stripped out leaves and lateral shoots for the first two feet of the vine. I have also clipped any new vines coming out of the ground. The object is to allow air flow in and around the base of the vine.

This is the same process I did last year to my bines. It allowed me to keep the yard neat and also helped prevent the possibility of disease around the base of the plant due to high humidity and possible harboring of any diseases.

Note in the picture the before and after shot of the vines. It has been almost a month since my initial selection of 4 of the best bines to train up the sisal twine. It takes me almost 6 hours to prune and weed 35 bines. It is a work in progress from here on out!!
Finally, I know that there will only be about a handful of folks that read this, but I have seen some real devastation going on with ramp harvesting this year. I am afraid that the native populations of ramps have hit a new high in harvesting this year.
Let me explain. Ramps take an estimated 6 to 7 years to mature into a harvestable size. For hundreds of years, the native populations have always been aware of this. They have always, at least in the past, harvested just what they needed and left the rest.
Now, more and more, harvesting is being done on a massive eradication style of "Leave No Plant Standing"! Wow! The all-mighty dollar in tough times means that we need to feed the family and rape the land to do it. The heck with the future. Ah!, so is devastation that is now wrecking our fragile environment.
That used to be never the case. In the past, our indigenous populations and, later, the European settlers were in tune to what nature has provided for us. They took what they needed and looked after the generations of plants and people that followed.
Now, we have new populations of settlers. Those that have no idea of what it takes to sustain native populations of plants and traditions. All they are concerned about is getting as much as they can from nature to translate into cash. They poach, prey, eradicate, and destroy everything they can.
I was alarmed to find recently about ginseng arrest being made. Hundreds of pounds of illegally gathered roots. I know, it has always happened before, but now, it seems that there is no limit to what these scum bags will stoop to. Excuse me for being belligerent, but I have had all I can take.
I have recently been buying ramps from the middle man. It is my way of sacrificing what little money I have to help save what little we have left in our mountains. Through my little efforts, I have been able to talk to 10 other folks into buying up ramps and re-planting them instead of eating them.
I encourage each and every one of the few folks that read all the way to the end of this post, to do the same. I know it encourages the middle man to buy more because of increased sales, but I thing that if everyone would at least plant a little to save a lot, it would make a difference. Please do your part, however you can.
Let's save our heritage plants!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hops Have Reached New Heights!

Well, really, the hops reach a new height every day. I started training the bines about the first week in April. Now my Nuggets are over 6 feet tall, closely followed by Cascades, some of which are 5 feet tall. Then the Chinooks are closing in with 4 feet of height and Centennial are struggling to get enough height to start training on the twine.

I have been a bit overwhelmed by everything here on the farm, being the only worker. I have been laying out my irrigation for the past 4 days. I have about completed all of the tasks associated with putting down the old drip lines from last year

Some of the emitters have failed and must be replaced. The line itself has stretched somewhat and has to be cut or added for length to match plants. I have laid out a new 5th row of blueberry line today and will punch in the emitters tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow. Rob Austin of NCSU, will be visiting my farm tomorrow, April 19th. It is part of a new study being done by the university on growing hops. He has started a test plot in Raleigh and will be visiting a couple of hop yards here in the mountains tomorrow. I am excited to be a part of new research being done here in the state.

I noticed today that my Goldenseal is up and starting to bloom. I have also started to irrigate my woodland herbs as the rain is still eluding us here. So far, we have had only 1/2 inch of rain here and I noticed this afternoon that a forest fire is in progress just on the the north side of the Craggy Mountains, not less than 5 miles from the farm.

I have finished planting 11, 175 foot rows of Milkweed last week. It took a very long time. I have had to put the water to them and hope that after the 4 days of planting, that at least some of the milkweed will germinate. They are closely planted at one inch spacing and 30 inch row separation.

I will be ordering my greenhouse/butterfly flighthouse tomorrow as well. I have been laying out the foundation and getting things ready for this incredibly expensive endeavor. I hope to have it completed by the end of May, in time to order butterflies to fill it up!