Do you enjoy growing fruit? Perhaps you have a few blueberry bushes, a handful of strawberry plants, or some apple trees and you’re looking to expand your garden’s offerings? Consider growing kiwi fruit.
Did you know that these tasty and nutrient-packed fruits grow on a vine and aren’t native to New Zealand? In fact, the kiwifruit plant (Actinidia deliciosa) originally stems from temperate parts of southwestern China and was traditionally known in English as the “Chinese gooseberry.” In the early 20th century, the plant was exported to Europe, the United States, and New Zealand, where the vast majority of kiwifruit is grown today.
There are primarily two types of kiwi fruit grown for production: Hardy and Golden. The kiwifruit is the type that most of us are familiar with; it produces those fuzzy brown fruit that are about the size of an extra-large chicken egg. The hardy kiwi, on the other hand, produces smooth, green, grape-sized fruit, which is why it also goes by the name “kiwiberry.” The flavor is said to be sweeter than that of the larger kiwifruit. Some species of hardy kiwis, like A. kolomikta, are grown mainly for their attractive, pink-variegated foliage and fragrant flowers.
When to Plant Kiwi
Plant kiwifruits in early spring or in late fall during dormancy. Avoid planting kiwifruits in hot, dry summer conditions. Kiwis typically begin bearing fruit 3 to 5 years after planting.
Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site
Kiwi fruits require a warm, sheltered, sunny position, preferably against a south- or west-facing wall, although they can be grown in the open in milder areas. Young shoots are extremely vulnerable to frost damage in spring and may require protection.
Grow kiwifruit in compost-rich loamy soil that is well-drained. Roots can grow to more than 4 feet deep; soil should be easily worked. A soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0 is optimal.
To get a good crop from kiwi, you’ll need to plant male and female plants. The females produce the fruit. If planting more than one, space them 3–4.5m (10–15ft) apart (although a male should be positioned closer, only 60cm/2ft away from the female).
Kiwifruit Care, Nutrients, and Water
Summer pruning is important to keep these Vigorous are healthy, strong-growing plant stems, especially when new growth is produced vigorous plants in check
When and How to Pick a Kiwi
Plants usually start fruiting three or four years after planting. Hardy varieties are the most likely to fruit in the UK. Kiwi fruits need a very warm, long summer and autumn to ripen outdoors. Pick any remaining unripe fruit before the first frost, then ripened indoors by placing in a bowl with other fruit. When ripe, they should give slightly when gently squeezed, although they may take several weeks to reach this stage.
When harvesting kiwi handle with care, as they bruise easily and damaged fruit has a limited storage life. To harvest kiwi, snap the stem at the base of the fruit. Again, softness is not a great determiner for readiness. Size, date, and when in doubt, cut open a fruit to access the seeds inside– when seeds are black, it is time for kiwi fruit harvest. Remove the larger fruit when harvesting kiwi and allow the smaller to remain on the vine and attain some size.
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