We wanted to find a fast-growing bine (yes, bine) to help shade our west-facing chicken coop run from the hot afternoon sun. After some research, we went with hops because they are completely safe for chickens, fast-growing and perennial, meaning they come back year after year.
I ordered the Top of the Hops Collection from Stark Bro’s that includes Centennial, Cascade and Nugget. This is the second year for these twelve plants and they are filling in great.
Hops spreads through roots and shoots so I am wondering if this will eventually become a wall that is trimmed on one side by the chickens and the other by the mower. I’m sure I can take root cuttings to fill in any empty gaps.
I think this is also inadvertently protecting the chickens from hawks right now. We’ve had some circling overhead and I think they are too scared of the wires and bines to mess with my girls.
I found this helpful article from Stark Bro’s on growing hops called 8 Questions & Answers All About Hops.
“Hop bines are vigorous and sun-loving, and prefer to grow vertically – sometimes over 20 feet in a year! Before planting hops, it is recommended that you plan for where it will climb. If you have a balcony, existing arbor, or something similar, then you can train your hops to climb these structures. You can even grow hops along a sturdy fence. Full sun (at least 6-8 hours daily) is required for plant health and cone production.”Stark Bro’s
Ryan made this great cable system to help train them to grow and cover the run. The cables run from the fence (on all sides) up to the southern peak of the coop.
Hops are a herbaceous perennial plant used to flavor beer that can live for over 25 years. If you haven’t seen how they grow hops commercially, you have to check out this video.
ICYMI: To check out the initial before and after photos of this coop, read this blog.
These are some of the happy chickens who love to hang out under the hops shade.
Also, I get hops! I gave some to a coworker who is planning to home-brew some beer. That is something we have yet to try ourselves.
Do you grow hops?