By Emma O’Connell
Making your own beer is pretty cool. But just think if you could also grow all the ingredients that make up your brew. A beer garden for your beer garden! The ingredients that go into making beer are pretty easy to grow and can be grown in most moderate climates. Below is a list of the main ingredients needed and some less known ones, followed by the growing requirements and days until harvest for barley, wheat, and hops.
What is in beer?
- Grain (malted): barley (most common), wheat, rice, corn, rye, oats, and sorghum.
- Aromatic herbs.
Ingredients for a basic beer garden (minus the yeast and the cool mountain stream):
- Barley. Barley is super easy to grow and requires little care or water. Some varieties are spring planted and some are fall planted. Spring-planted barley ripens in 60-70 days; fall-planted barley in about 60 days after spring growth begins. Barley is a great for double cropping or crop rotation. It should be planted in full sun, 20-25 seeds per square feet. To harvest, cut it down with a sickle, bundle, and dry in place with good aeration and low humidity. For one barrel of beer, depending on what kind of beer you are making, you need 25-40 pounds (between a half and a little less than a bushel) of malted barley. This means that in about 400-500 square feet you could grow enough barley to make a barrel of beer.
- Wheat. Wheat and barley are grown in much the same way. Spring-planted wheat ripens in late summer and winter wheat ripens in mid-summer. Many wheat beers still contain a significant amount of barley. So the amount of wheat you grow in your beer garden could be perhaps ¼ to ½ of the space allotted for barley.
- Hops. Hops are a perennial plant grown from rhizomes, and can be grown in any moderate climate. A good amount of sun and vertical space is required, so a south facing wall or trellis would be ideal. The hop vines (called bines) can grow over 25 feet tall and weigh more than 20 pounds, so a good support system is important. First year crops are rather skimpy, but by the second year you should have plenty. Harvest occurs in late summer. They require drying out of sunlight in low humidity. You can expect a half to 2 pounds of dried hop cones per plant. Anywhere from 1-3 pounds of hops can be used per barrel of beer, so with just a few plants you could have plenty of hops to use.
- Berries and fruit. The possibilities are endless here. Add a dwarf apple, peach or pear tree to your beer garden and maybe a row of raspberries.
- Aromatic herbs. Here are some ideas for aromatics that are easy able to be grown in most gardens: coriander, rose hips, juniper berries, elderberries, elderflowers, woodruff, mugwort, wintergreen, and heather.
To find locally grown ingredients for you home brew check Pick-A-Pepper.com!
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