Don't get me wrong. I enjoy having my vines of hops growing along the front of my garage. They have become an interesting topic of neighborhood conversation. One year I wanted to make an autumn wreath out of 'hops', but found they disintegrated while I worked. Well, so much for that experiment.
Over the years I have used string to train them along the top of the garage door. It made for a big mess when it came time to remove them in the fall. Ugh. So earlier this year I bought drawer pulls and screwed them in along the length of the top of the door, that way about once every two weeks I would get up on my stool and guide the vines through the loops of the pulls. Worked great. After a while I could see the vines were naturally attaching themselves to the longer vines I no longer felt the need to train them. And, up to last week the vines looked fantastic.
I didn't realize how long it had been since I had put up my garage door, and when I did last week in order to paint my plastic chairs, catastrophe struck. The hops began to sag, very, very badly. Dang!
At the time it was more important I paint than try to tie up the hops and decided if I had energy left after I was done with my paint job, I would string the hops back into place. Turned out it didn't matter if I had the energy or not, the sagging had increased while I worked so I had no choice to cut lengths of string and push, pull and cajole the hops back into place.
I stood back and admired my handiwork. The vines were kind of bunched together, but figured eventually they would fill out a bit.
Suddenly, I felt very itchy. I looked at my arms they were fiery red, with scratch marks. The skin was not broken but long, ugly welts ran from my wrists to my elbows. I had forgotten hops vine leaves were covered with microscopic needle like projectiles, boy, they had done serious damage. I wanted NOT to scratch, but could not help myself, so of course I did...that didn't help and by the time I got into the house whatever was in those needles was now spread about the whole infected area. I was a mess.
I applied some hydrogen peroxide and some antibacterial salve. That helped, but only in the short term. So I began the regiment of peroxide and salve, peroxide and salve. Finally yesterday the itching almost came to an end. This morning my right arm is still slightly red, but the welting is almost gone. However, my left arm still shows the welts and is pretty red...thank goodness it does not itch anymore. I'm starting to wonder if I'm scarred for life.
Perhaps I should get rid of the hops. Na, I don't really want to; I just have
remember, at least I hope I remember to wear protective clothing next time I need to tend to the vines.