Attack of the Spider Mites, Revenge of the Hop Rhizome

Chinook Rhizome Re-Sprouting Hop Vines

As you can see, my hop plant has re-emerged, and with it my hopes to one day brew with homegrown hops. Earlier this year spider mites attacked and devastated my lone hop plant (of the Chinook variety). You can see the carnage on top of the soil where the new shoots are sprouting. Everything was going fine, the plant was growing extremely fast, I already trellised it up and across the window (it was probably a good 15-20ft long if I unravelled it), and then one day the bottom leaves started to turn brown.Before Mite Hop Plant

Pretty soon more leaves were turning brown. One by one, all the way up the twine trellis, each leaf was slowly decimated. I could see the little bugs under the leaves, but no matter how many times I sprayed them with soapy water or smushed them between my fingers I couldn’t defeat them. Then one week they must have multiplied because in a flash all of the growth was brown and leaves were sent raining onto the sill below. 

So, in denial, I forgot about it. It’s summertime and summertime is not brewing time. Too hot for brewing in the apartment and too hot for the beer to properly ferment. However, the weather has definitely turned in NYC. It’s starting to get "a little chilly out", as Sweetbreads would say. Yesterday was the official “Ok, it’s kinda cold, everyone in NYC break out the sweaters and scarves day”. So I’ve been in the brewing frame of mind. I decided to re-visit my hop plant, or should I say rhizome. Thankfully, hop plants don’t sprout from seeds, they sprout from ‘rhizomes’ (really a fancy word for ‘root’). Check out how it came in the mail

Chinook Rhizome Fresh Outta the Box

So that hop rhizome had been sitting in the soil since the attack (late July), licking its wounds and not sending up any new shoots. I left it baking in the soil and figured it was dead. I had cut the old vine after it dried and now we have these cool hop-vine sticks, but no fresh hops. Just a large empty pot. Or so I thought.

Earlier this week I gave the rhizome some water and then later in the week gave it a little more. Yesterday I woke up to see three new shoots. Awesome, only now I am living in fear of the spider mites. Will they come back? Will they bring their devilish friends? Sweetbreads told me that the females live in the soil, just waiting to have babies and chow down on the next crop. "Bleepin' mites", I thought to myself, of course they do. Well, now I’m on a mission to stop them. I don’t know what my plan of attack will be, but I’m open to suggestions. I'm not talking about googling "how to defeat spider mites", I already did that...and failed. I need some old school ninja tactics.

Oh, and hop plants grow a few inches a day, so better get on the move!