One of the most satisfying projects working as an Apprentice Gardener for Better Bankside, has been growing hops at Market Hall, in Borough Market. The hop (Humulus lupulus) is a hardy perennial plant, that is easily grown provided sufficient sun light, water and climbing space. It is also one of the main ingredients that is used for making beer.
The planting starts with the rhizomes, a rhizome is a subterranean stem of a plant that is usually found underground, whose buds develop new roots and shoots. These rhizomes are planted in early spring. Once the hops emerge and grow about 6 inches (15.2cm) they then need to be 'trained' around a trellis or wire in the case of Market Hall, the plant is then wrapped around the provided support in a clockwise direction, after a while they will begin growing clockwise on their own. Each rhizome will produce between 4 to 6 healthy bines, a bine is a climbing plant that climbs by its shoots growing in a helix around a support. These bines grow very rapidly, forming a dense green vertical screen that can grow as high as 25 feet (7.6m), (5m at Market Hall).
They are absolutely beautiful, but also incredibly fragrant as the female flowers start to appear in July and August, by September they ripen into harvestable pine-scented hops, which we then harvested to make our very own beer - Borough Barrow Bitter.