PVC Support for Growing Hops and Other Tall Vines

  

I started brewing beer about 1990 and it was natural to combine that with my interest with gardening and grow my own hops.  Brewers use the dried female flowers from the hops vine to add bitterness to beer. Depending on when it they are added to the brewing process, hops can also add flavor and/or aroma to the beer.  There are a large number of hops varieties which have different bitterness and taste characteristics. Different styles of beer used different quanties and varieties of hops.

In the United States most hops are grown in Oregon or Washington State.  Wisconsin used to be a large hop producer until the 1860’s.  A hops shortage the last few years has resulted in some commercial hops production again in Wisconsin.

Hops grow on tall vines, and so need some support. They can grow to 20’ or more, although mine don’t get that tall. Even so, they require a tall support.  I made mine with one of my favorite construction material, PVC pipe.

Start with two 10’ pieces of 2” diameter PVC pipe and a Tee section.  Take one section and cut two pieces about 2’ long. These will form the horizontal top sections.  You can simply glue the pieces together with PVC glue, but the Tee section will not be strong enough to support the weight of the vines at the tips. It needs some reinforcement.  I used a 3’ piece of wood that runs through the center Tee section and most of the horizontal pipes.

The first step is to glue the Tee to the remaining 10’ piece of PVC pipe. Next slide the reinforcement wood or pipe through the Tee with equal lengths sticking out the ends.  Then slide the 2’ pieces of pipe over the reinforcement wood but don’t insert them yet.  Put PVC glue on the inside ends of the horizontal pipes and insert into the Tee. Before the glue sets, push down on the ends until you feel resistance from the reinforcement wood. Let the glue dry.

I use a 6’ piece of steel water pipe hold the support up. It is driven halfway into the ground, and the PVC support slips over the top. The final step is to hang strings from the top for the vines to climb up. 

Cascade variety hops nearly ready for harvest.

© 2009 - 2014 Gary C. Sutcliffe

  

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