In troubled times, a beverage which helps you
relax or go to sleep is a valuable thing. Hops are also used in beer
making. The long vines come up every year from the root stock, and
require little care. We dug ours near an old cellar hole we found in
the woods, but you should be able to get the root from a nursery.
Hops grow as a climbing vine, and need the
support of a trellis or tall poles. We grow ours on a tripod of
three eight foot poles, tied together near the top like a teepee.
Deer like them very well too, so you may need to protect them with
fencing. Pods will form on the plant, with loose, fluffy green
petals. That is the part you harvest, not the leaves. Keep an eye on
the pods, and pick them when they start to dry out, before they fall
||Here is what the hops look like at
harvest time. The vigorous growth has hidden the poles
supporting the plant. The pods are a pale green color, and a
single layer of them are being put in the tray for further
We gather the pods into a shallow card board box,
and dry them in the sun on good days. Stir them occasionally, so the
sun and dry air get to all sides of them. Make sure you bring them
in before the dew falls, to an airy room or porch. Here in often
cloudy or rainy New England, it may take a week or more to get them
'paper dry'. That is dry to the touch, and so they crinkle. Then
they will store indefinitely, in a cloth or paper bag to keep dust
and sunlight off them.
||The drying hops are shown on the left, in
the simple cardboard tray, which is easy to move. On the
right, is a newspaper lined tray with flower seeds drying in
it, and below that are larger flower seed pods, drying on a
paper towel covered plate. You don't need fancy equipment to
To make a tea, fill a cup or pot of the way
with loose pods, and pour boiling water over them to the top. Let it
steep for 15 minutes, and strain. This will make a tea that will
really help you relax quickly, so drink it just before lying down.
Weaker teas can be made as a regular beverage, and it also combines
well with mint for a refreshing after dinner tea.
||The still green colored hops are now dry
enough to store in the cloth bag shown here, or in a paper
bag. They will turn brown as they age longer.
Gardening articles by New England Gardener