How to grow the hops in a biological way
Il Luppolo (Humulus lupulus L., 1753) is a shrub bearing habit of the family of the cannabaceae, which grows up to 9 meters in length and with very deep roots and from their rhizome each spring has the rejection of the new plant that it is therefore perennial (with plants that can last even 20 years); in this sheet we see how to grow the hops in a biological way.
It is a dioecious plant with male plants (which pollinate) and female plants and the part that is collected is the female inflorescence, which has a conical shape (cone). For this reason (except for the production of seed or varietal improvement) in the hops only female plants are cultivated and, to the limit, some male plants to increase the production of female cones.
The hops is a typical plant of the coldest climates (especially central Europe) so it does not tolerate the heat or moments of aridity. In Italy it can be grown in the north or at higher altitudes. Sun exposure should instead be optimal. The hops then requires well-endowed soils with organic substance, capable of good water retention (but not stagnation) with pH that can oscillate between 6 and 8 and deep and quite loose soil.
For the hops plant it is necessary to make a good preliminary processing in good time and with the second refining process the mature manure or compost must be added (300 quintals per hectare), with half the quantity in other years. In cultivation areas it is cultivated in baulatures, that is, small hills (about 20-30 cm tall) to spin that facilitate the draining of the waters. The plantation of hops is done in the spring period at the end of the frosts with the rhizomes facing upwards and just covered with earth and irrigating frequently to avoid drying up of the ground. The plantation can be done in the nursery starting from seed and subsequent transplanting. However the simplest propagation is that which takes place by partitioning the tuft, taking a basal shoots of the mother plant (thus obtaining uniform plants). This operation is done in the spring with suckers of at least 15 cm, with their roots, with preventive rooting in pots and subsequent transplanting. The recommended implant size is 80-100 cm between plants and even 3 meters between rows. Each row must have supports to support the plants and at the same time ensure brightness and ease of crop operations. These supports are made (in the second year) with metal tie-rods and different heights to which to tie the plant as it grows up to heights of 3-4 meters.
An important operation is the weeding to be carried out, on large extensions with special tools; in a concept of agro-ecological cultivation weeding (possibly with straws) represents the optimal solution both for the additional amounts of organic substance, the reduction in processing of tools (reduction of CO2 emissions) and irrigation. On the contrary, every year, before replacing the mulch, it is advisable to plant the plants (spring-summer period) and to eliminate any weeds. Irrigation, which is important for the hops must be done with a special drip system that also allows further water savings, with close shifts and medium quantities of watering.
Among the main adversities is botrytis. The regular use of decoction of horsetail sprinkled on the plants helps prevent infections and is an excellent adjuvant in the fight against aphids and red spider mite.
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