Matthew has had his work cut out stringing the new hop garden – a full 8 acres. The old hop garden was a mere 3.5 acres and this is the first time that Matthew has strung the new garden with its 6,500 hop plants.
Most of the hop plants have four strings, from the pegs in the ground to the hire wire above. The strings give vital support to the hop plant as it grows. Using 98 miles of traditional coir string, it took Matthew over 38 days to finish this mammoth task. Luckily, the weather has been very favourable – for the most part!
Working at a steady rate of 1/3 mile an hour, Matthew’s suntan has never looked better!
Local volunteers have been drafted in to help “twiddle”. Twiddling is a traditional and essential task of winding the hop shoots around the strings. This encourages the hops to grow upwards to create a healthy crop, which will be harvested later in the year and used in brewing our beers.
With social distancing strictly in place, and volunteers limited to 4 per session, Matthew and his team of volunteers have made a great start to this labour-intensive job, ably assisted by Bruce and Denise, who helped plant the garden back in the autumn.
The new garden took Mervyn Carless of Herefordshire and his two colleagues three months to build last year, using 600 large poles, over 150 steel anchor plates and over 10,000 metres of high tension steel wiring.