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Vermont Garden Journal: The Hardy Kiwi

08/17/12 5:55PM
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I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Growing fruit is becoming more popular and many gardeners are experimenting with some exotics too. Well, it doesn't get any more exotic in the fruit world than the kiwi. But I'm not talking about the fuzzy, tropical kiwi, but the hardy kiwi. With bald green, sweet tasting fruits about the size of a grape, the hardy kiwi is a tough, aggressive vine that produces fruit in abundance.

Hardy kiwi is a perennial vine that hails from Siberia. If it can grow in the ice box of Northeastern Russia, then you know it can survive in Vermont. To grow them, purchase 1 male for every 8 female vines for pollination. Some good tasting varieties to look for include 'Anna' and 'Ken's Red' (a unique red skinned fruit). 'Issai' is a less hardy, but self-fruitful variety that doesn't need a mate and 'Arctic Beauty' is super hardy to zone 3 and has colorful pink, green and white variegated leaves.

Plant hardy kiwi vines 12 feet apart on well-drained, fertile soil, in full sun. Ideally plant on an east facing slope so flowers don't develop too quickly in spring and get subjected to late frosts. These vines love to grow. In fact, some consider them invasive further South. At the time of planting erect a sturdy wooden trellis with 5 foot long cross bars positioned about 6 feet off the ground. Run 4 to 5 wires between these cross bars. Train the vines up to the wires and then along them. Prune heavily each spring removing up to 70 percent of the vines. Be patient. Hardy kiwi can take up to 7 years to produce fruit. But the wait is worth it. Once they start producing bunches of kiwis, they will produce in abundance.

For this week's tip, cut dahlia flowers for arrangements in the morning. After cutting, place the stem underwater, recut it to just above a leaf node and then pinch the stem with a pin to release air bubbles.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about powdery mildew disease. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Resources:
Hardy Kiwi
Kiwi

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