i seem to remember ours taking a while to pop up, and then they definitely didn't grow much that first season. i think most of the energy is going into taking root. the next season they were up nice and early, and achieved modest growth, and by the 3rd they were monsters. i wouldn't expect glorious things from them this year. i'd keep doing what you're doing and mainly be concerned that they come up at all (but we had some that didn't come up the first and did the second, so eh--what do i know?).
also, ours are fairly maintenance free. they aren't a fussy plant that seems to care so much about the soil and time of sun (morning, afternoon). they get sun, but not a whole day (mostly mid-day, half a day's worth if they are lucky due to the big trees and proximity of neighbor's house). if it hasn't rained in a while, we water. but otherwise, the attention we give them is to direct the vines every couple of days, and later to pick the cones. i'm sure if we did more, we'd get more, but i don't think we could handle an "optimum" output considering what they give now! they are hardy as all get out. i know our friend who gave us the cutting says the same thing. they grow despite everything almost. so i think once they've made a hold on the spot you planted them in, you all should be golden for the next year.