So, growing hops and barley here is going to face another challenge I hadn’t considered. Weather. Now, I’m not talking about my location being in climate zone 9-10 (by the American standards), which means bloomin’ hot in summer and very mild in winter. I have already taken that into account and think I have a solution (to be revealed later). No, I’m talking about extreme weather events and especially Typhoons.
A few nights back we were battered by Typhoon Number 16 (or, Typhoon Malakas, as it was known to the rest of the world). Whatever its name, it basically roared in and flattened my little veggie patch and frightened the life out of me in the process. If these storms flattened plants only 30cms high, what will they do to hop plants which are 10-20 metres high?
You can see the plants have been knocked for six and the leaves literally blown off of a few of them.
Luckily, the strongest Typhoons come in September, hopefully after the hop harvest. Typhoons do come earlier though and to mitigate against that I will need to construct some pretty sturdy supports and low too, more akin to grape vines. This is going to be more of a project than I thought, but still achievable.
As for barley, I still need to do some research. Certainly local farmers don’t seem to grow it, preferring rice. There are probably strains that are suited to this climate, but the solution I have in mind may be able to accommodate more strains. You may be thinking, “what solutions does this person have for the weather? Surely he’s a little doolally”. Well, I am probably a little doolally, it is true. However, my solution is to grow these plants at higher altitudes where it will be a few degrees cooler and therefore more suitable for these crops. This may eventually be a better location for brewing too, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Of course, this is all very much on the drawing board. I have only into the earliest stages of my journey and the Green Man Brewery has yet to brew any beer. In all likelihood there will be no beer until next year, when I bring my kit back from the UK. In the meantime, there will be a lot of research, planning and thinking through likely pitfalls and solutions. I am more likely to start growing hops, before I brew my first pint.