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Hop Growing Zones

Nov
16

About Hop Growing Zones

Planting, growing, and harvesting hops is just as easy as growing tomatoes.  In addition to flavoring your home-brewed beer, your crop can also serve as a decorative landscape element. Imagine your sunny porch shaded by 15-foot vines and their bright green leaves.

Hops are deciduous, perennial vines that grow 15 to 25 feet tall and will climb a trellis, arbor or other structure. The lush foliage creates a quick visual barrier during the growing season and the green papery flowers attract butterflies to the garden in late summer. Hops are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Winter Hardiness

In the hardiness range for hops, in USDA zones 3 through 8, winter temperatures regularly drop well below freezing. In winter, the foliage dies back to the ground while the roots remain alive under the soil. Dormant roots are hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but new growth is susceptible to frost. Planted too early in the growing season, a late frost could kill your hop plants.

Growing Season

During the growing season, hops thrive in a temperature range between 40 and 70 F. The plants tolerate a wide range of precipitation levels, thriving in areas that get as little as 12 inches and as much as 53 inches of rain per year. Generally drought-tolerant, hops have a deep root system that will tap underground water tables 5 feet below the soil. In areas with deeper water tables and limited precipitation, you will need to monitor and regularly water the hops.

Planting and Growing Hops

Plant hops in full sun for best growth and flowering within the growing zone. You can grow hops successfully in areas warmer than the climate zone range by providing some summer shade. In areas where summer temperatures regularly rise above 70 F, plant hops in part shade, two to four hours of sun per day, to provide protection for the foliage and prevent sun scorch on the leaves and flowers.

Root System and Water

In areas where the water table is lower than 5 feet, water hops when the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil feels dry to the touch. Water slowly and deeply to allow water to seep down around the roots. Hops have both deep roots and lateral growing shallow roots. Your fresh plants are grown from rhizomes, short segments of roots harvested off older plants. You can mail-order dormant rhizomes ready for planting in the early spring. Local home-brew-supply stores stock the rhizomes or offer potted 2-year-old hop plants. 

Hops can be grown in just about any moderate climate in the U.S., but do best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9. Some varieties are more heat-resistant and others resistant to molds, diseases and pests. But once they are established, hops are hardy plants. Insect pests like aphids sometimes attack hops, but those can be controlled easily by introducing ladybugs that dine on aphids or by spraying your plants with a mild insecticidal soap solution available at garden stores.

Hops are perennial, producing vines that grow up to 25 feet each year. Provide a sturdy trellis to support the vines in a sunny part of your yard or garden. The plants need six to eight hours of full sun to produce well. Planting the vines along a tall fence or against the side of your porch or garage is also an option.

How to Plant

Once you’ve chosen your spot, till the soil thoroughly and add compost to provide good drainage. Hops plants don’t like their roots too wet. Plant your rhizomes in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. 

Mound each rhizome in dirt, spaced 3 to 5 feet apart and horizontally about 1 to 2 inches deep with the small buds pointing up. Within a week, you could see your first shoots emerge. Then step back. Hops can grow as much as a foot per day during the first few months.

Your plants will appreciate a supplemental feeding of compost, manure, or fertilizer during the first few months. Mulching your crop will help conserve moisture and cut down on weeds.

Trellis

You can let your imagination go wild when constructing your trellis. Others keep it simple by running a single strong support wire from one side of a building’s eave to the other and attaching strong twine to the top wire, extending vertically to each plant. The plants are then trained to wind around the vertical twine in a clockwise direction. Gently get the vines started when they are about a foot tall. They will climb to the top wire in short order. 

Harvesting

You may not see many cones in year one. The plant is concentrating on producing its root system. But by year two, you’ll be rewarded with your first harvest, up to a pound or more per plant. In late July and August, pinch a cone. If it feels papery, it’s ready to pick. If you break the cone open, you’ll see small, yellow particles inside. This is lupulin, the magic ingredient that gives beer its distinctive bitterness and aroma.

CAUTION: Never allow your dog to eat the cones, before or after brewing with them. The cones, both fresh and dried, are toxic to dogs, causing panting, high body temperatures, seizures, and even death.

Drying Your Harvest

After they’re picked, the cones need to be dried. In an electric food dehydrator, spread your cones evenly and set at its lowest setting (90 to 100 degrees F, and never over 140 degrees.)  Your cones are dry and ready when the stems are brittle. You can add them to your brew right after drying, or vacuum seal and store them in the freezer. Advanced home brewers use fresh cones right off the vines without drying for a particularly fresh tasting brew.

Hop Growing Zones Article

Buy Bulk Hops from our friends at Michigan Hop Alliance

Cyber Security Degree Requirements

Nov
02

Once a specialty only linked with government agencies and defense contractors, cyber security is now in the mainstream. Industries like health care, finance, manufacturing, and retail all hire cyber security professionals to protect valuable info from cyber breaches. The demand for trained specialists in this field is high. A report by job analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies discovered job postings for openings in cyber security have grown three times faster than those for IT job overall, and cyber security professionals are earning nine percent more than their IT counterparts. 

What Does a Career in Cyber Security Involve?

From “ethical hackers” who look for and exploit security vulnerabilities in web-based applications and network systems to cryptographers who examine and decrypt hidden information from cyber-terrorists, cyber security professionals work hard to make sure data stays out of the wrong hands. Cyber security professionals work in almost every industry, responding quickly to real-world threats. While there are cyber security associate degree programs, high-level careers usually require an array of technical IT skills and advanced analysis capabilities found in graduate-level degree programs.

Cyber Security Degrees and Careers In-Depth

A four-year cyber security degree program concentrates on the variety of methods used to protect data and information systems. Students get training in technical and business skills like database applications, systems administration, and data recovery. Coursework mixes criminal psychology, digital forensics, and policy analysis to offer a complete perspective of IT security. There are hundreds of job titles in cyber security, and some of the top positions include:

  • Security Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Architect
  • Security Administrator
  • Security Software Developer
  • Cryptographer
  • Cryptanalyst
  • Security Consultant

Pursuing a Cyber Security Degree & Career

While it’s possible to find some entry-level cyber security positions with only an associate degree, most jobs require a four-year bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related field like IT or computer science. Coursework in programming and statistics in addition to classes in ethics and computer forensics prepare students with the technical and analytical skills needed for successful careers in cyber security.

In an environment where data breaches are becoming more and more frequent, more cyber security degree programs are being added each year. Before deciding on a cyber security degree, students should make sure that it is not only accredited, but also supports their career goals.

 Associate Degree in Cyber Security

An associate degree in cyber security is a two-year program suitable for the following types of situations:

  • Securing entry-level work as a computer support technician or a similar position
  • An added qualification for those already working in the field
  • A step on a path to a four-year cyber security degree

Associate degree coursework includes the vulnerabilities of a variety of hardware and software systems, network technologies, and key cyber security concepts like security administration and intrusion detection. Many programs also prepare students for certification exams typically required for full-time employment, ranging from basic CompTIA Security+ to ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Cyber Security Certificates

Many colleges and universities offer certificates in cyber security for those who are looking to develop further expertise in the field or add credentials to their resume. Students study the principles of computer systems security, including attack protection and prevention. Courses delve into cryptographic techniques, legal issues in computer security, digital forensics, and designs for network perimeter defenses.

Most certificates are 12-18 credits and accessible online. In some cases, students may apply credits earned in a certificate program to a master’s degree in cyber security at a later date. There are a few types of cyber security certificates that cover cyber security technology, cyber security management and related areas.

Complete advanced training

Some employers require candidates to hold an advanced degree like a master’s degree in cyber security. Prospective employers can also offer tuition assistance to meet this goal. A master’s degree requires an additional one to two years to complete after the bachelor’s degree-level and delivers advanced instruction in protecting computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attack. Students learn the ethics, practices, policies, and procedures of cyber security as they examine how to tackle network security defense techniques and countermeasures. Cyber security professionals also pursue certification to boost their skills while working full-time to gain hands-on experience.

Pass security clearances (if applicable)

Security clearances are a requirement for those who want to work with classified information as part of a military of government agency. A number of agencies issue both personnel and facility security clearances, but for the most part they are issued by the Department of Defense. Each type of clearance requires its own procedures and paperwork. The process, which can take three months to a year, does not begin until an employer has hired you, at which point you be given a conditional offer of employment. The first step is to submit clearance documentation, which is then followed by a Background Investigation.

Find the Right Cyber Security Degree Program

The field of cyber security concentrates on network and data protection at various levels. Whether you are looking for an accredited online program or a traditional on-campus program, students have a variety options when it comes to cyber security degrees.

While it is still a relatively fresh field, cyber security degrees are available at all levels, from associate degrees to PhD degrees. Students can engage in cyber security degrees online or in a campus-based environment. Each degree-level preps students for specific opportunities, from entry-level employment to careers in academia. Before choosing a cyber security program, students should ensure it supports their long-term goals