As you will soon learn I have a lot of hobbies and interests. One of these interests is brewing beer. I am lucky enough to work part time at a local micro brewery just a few miles down the road from my house. While I have a few titles there, my favorite is the “Official Taste Tester” title that I awarded myself (and it has stuck around!).
In addition to the responsibilities that I have there, I also grow hops for one special batch of beer that we brew every September, the Face-Off Double IPA. This is an award winning beer at The Great International Beer Fest.
For the past couple years I have been growing the hops by attaching the twine to a big stick that is attached to my fence and cutting them down. There were a few problems with this however.
- It looked very unsightly to have this 2X4 attached to my fence.
- I am getting a new fence in a few weeks
- I pick the hops at 3am, so it is dark and not safe to cut things on a ladder with little light.
I have had this idea for about a year now, and it allows me to run the hops to the needed length, train my hops to grow, and easily harvest them in the morning. The entire project took almost two hours including breaks and time for the pictures.
The Beginning: A Hoppy Mess
This is what I had to start with. These Cascade hops have been growing for three years now in this location with great yields. After a few weeks of neglect I walked into this clump of vines. Some of the shoots were 12 feet long wrapped around lots of other vines.
The goal of this project was to create something that would be useful, something the wife & neighbors would not mind looking at and also cost effective. The materials used for this projet are as follows:
- 1 – 7′ 4X4 PT Post
- 2 – 8′ 2X4 KD
- 4 – 6″ 2X4 KD scraps for spacing.
- 1 Eye Bolt
- 2 Lag Bolts
- Misc Deck Screws
This makes the entire project cost less than $20. I had all of the materials laying around from other projects, which made it even better!
Digging a hole: The hardest part
In order for this contraption to work I needed my post to be secure in the ground. Using a post hole digger and a small spade shovel I dug over three feet in to the ground. I always forget how much I dislike post hole diggers until I hit that first rock! Luckily I did not hit anything too large and I was able to get to my desired depth.
Now that I have the post in securely, I can make the second part of this device.
Good thing for standard millworking. When I designed this I wanted there to be minimal cutting so anyone could make this. All in all I made 4 cuts (3 for the calls, 1 for the extension) Really I could have gotten away with 1 cut if I did not want everything to match. Using the width of the 4X4 I knew that the arm would fit perfectly. I decided to have a back call for a few reasons:
- I could counterbalance if needed
- The angle of the arm would be set at a precise angle that I selected
- The arm could never fall back into the house
One of the neat things about this design was having one pivot point so I could quickly harvest the hops when the time came. To do this I used Lag bolts as the hinge and tacked the arm in place with a few deck screws. This allows the arm to be moved quickly and easily. I drilled through all of these boards quickly with my 18V Makita Drill Driver! I will do a review on this amazing set soon.
Before I put the arm in place, I did attach an extension block and eye bolt to the end of the arm.
Now that everything is set I can now put it in place!
Notice that I also drastically thinned out the hops. They grow better when there are only a few main vines receiving all of the nutrients.
There you go! Now I have a reliable hop growing mechanism that will last me for a few years. I am going to build a few more that will catch several plants with one arm as I have seven plants on the property and I don’t want to build one for every plant. I will make sure to update this post with those pictures.