Yesterday's news about the pending beer crisis has me thinking about hops and gardening. I can remember seeing them growing in Washington in the Skagit valley back in 1989, but hadn't thought about them much lately. Where will they grow? How harsh a climate can they stand? One source says they were routinely grown in New England, although not many are grown there now. If they're halfway hardy maybe I'll become a hops farmer when we retire to the tundra of the U.P. in a few years. What type of soil do they require? Although maybe I shouldn't ask, because if it's not glacial till this hops farming fantasy could prove problemmatic.
I do know they'll grow in northern Wisconsin. I did the orchards tour around Bayfield back in 2006 and spotted some growing at one of the farms there, although they may have been in the nature of an experiment, too. There weren't many plants, and they were part of an ornamental garden. In any case, Bayfield County is the banana belt compared to the Michigamme highlands in upper Michigan.
The S.O.'s gardening fantasy for the U.P. used to be watermelon grown from seed. That challenge was met a few years ago. Maybe hops will be the new one.