The vital ingredient in beer--the hop--can be successfully grown in the home garden. Some gardeners claim their hop vines have grown 1 foot in a day. They will soon climb to the top of their trellis or other support structure. Although it may be tempting to let the vines grow as many hops as they can, prune them, and each vine will produce several pounds of hops for your home brewery.
Choose a site that is in full sun. Provide some means of vertical support, because hop vines can grow 25 feet or taller in a single season. Plant them next to a garage or prepare a vertical support structure or trellis for them to grow on.
Prepare the soil. Hops grow best in slightly alkaline soil, so do not use peat moss for soil improvement. Add 4 to 6 inches of well-rotted compost and at least 2 inches of well-rotted manure to the surface of the soil. Broadcast granulated all-purpose fertilizer on top of these, following the manufacturer's recommended quantities. Turn the soil over with a shovel or rototiller. Rake the surface smooth.
Plant hop rhizomes about 2 weeks before your average last spring frost. Bury them about 2 inches below the surface of the soil with the buds facing upward. Space them 3 feet apart for identical varieties. Plant rhizomes of different varieties of hops at least 5 feet apart. This spacing is necessary so that the different varieties can be kept separate for harvesting.
During their first year of growth, water the equivalent of an inch of rainfall per week. Do not let the soil dry out. In subsequent years their root systems will be deeper and the vines can stand more infrequent watering.
Mulch the surface of the soil with a 2- to 6-inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, shredded bark or hay.
Train the vines to twine clockwise around the support structure. Select a lateral vine that emerges every 2 to 3 feet along the vine to remain on the vine and cut out all others. If you leave all of the laterals, they will become entangled and the health of the plant will suffer.
Cut the dried vegetation at ground level after killed by frost in autumn. Mulch the roots with a 6-inch layer of hay or fallen autumn leaves. Remove mulch in mid-spring, about a week before your average last spring frost.
Apply granulated all purpose fertilizer in mid-spring to the ground around the base of the vines. Scratch it into the ground with a garden claw and water well.