Jan 112012
Ripe kiwifruit
Ripe kiwifruit

These fuzzy skinned kiwis are Actinidia deliciosa. They ripen in the late fall.

Kiwis seem exotic, but they grow in many climates. They are fast growing, luscious and need plenty of room to grow on a strong support.

SITE: Full sun, and protected from the wind.

CLIMATE ZONES: All kiwis come from  eastern Asia. Fuzzy skinned kiwis can take cold down to 24 deg F. There are varieties called Arctic Beauty kiwi, that are hardy to well below zero deg. F, and the fruit is much smaller. In very hot climates you may need to protect them from the summer sun. But kiwis grow in a wide range of climates and temperature.

SEX AND THE KIWI: The kiwi vine is strong and rampant and needs a sturdy structure to hold it up.  Place the vines at least 15 ft apart.

You also need a male and female plant for pollination. Sex in the plant world is as important as the human world. When you go to the nursery to get your plants, be sure to look at the label to make sure you get a male and female.  It can take up to 5 years from planting to get fruit.  But once you do, you can get up to 200 pounds per vine.

Kiwi Fruit on trellis

Kiwi vine on a strong trellis

SOIL:  The soil should be moderately rich, with good drainage. Give them plenty of compost.

WATER: They also like regular water through the season. Be sure to mulch your vines well, to keep the soil from compacting and to hold in moisture.

PLANTING: You can put in  bare root plants in winter when they are dormant  or you can put container plants in any time during mild weather.

If your garden is large enough, I recommend the kiwi for your edible landscape as a beautiful vine and a wonderfully producing fruit. It does require pruning and maintenance, but is relatively pest free.

HARVESTING: Kiwis in Northern California ripen in mid to late November.  I started harvesting my fruit mid November.  Kiwis DO NOT ripen on the vine.  They are firm to the touch when picked. Place them in a paper or plastic bag, with an apple or banana, to ripen for about a week.  Be sure to test them often. When they start to give a little, they are ripe.  Just peel it and try it.  If you have a lot of fruit, like I did this year, you can harvest them and place them in the refrigerator or other cool spot where they will stay for a few months without problem.

Bring them into the warm room in a bag to ripen as needed.



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