Sunday, June 19, 2011

Permaculture Plants: Kiwi

The Hardy Kiwi

Common Name: Kiwi (kiwifruit)

Scientific Name: Actinidia deliciosa, Actinidia arguta, and Actinidia kolomikta
Family: Actinidiaceae


Description:

Deciduous, woody, twining vine that produces small tropical tasting fruit. 


History:

Native to southern China, cultivation spread to New Zealand in the early 1900's where it was produced in large scale.  


Comparing the common "fuzzy" kiwi (A. deliciosa) with the Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta).
The Hardy Kiwi has soft, smooth, edible skin.

Trivia:

  • Only the "fuzzy" kiwi (A. deliciosa) is tropical (zone 7).  The other two species (Actinidia arguta and Actinidia kolomikta) are known as Hardy Kiwi.  They are hardy to Zone 2!
  • Kiwi's are dioecious, meaning the plant is either male or female
  • It was dubbed "Kiwifruit" after New Zealand's national bird, the brown and furry kiwi.
  • Italy is the leading producer followed by New Zealand and Chili.
  • Kiwi is very high in Vitamin C.

There are many, many types of Kiwi in the world!
They are not all brown and fuzzy.


USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Fresh eating
  • Fresh juice (usually mixed with other juices)
  • Drying pureed fruit into fruit "leather"

Secondary Uses:

  • Drinkable sap (concentrated into a syrup?)
  • Seasonal Shade (thick cover of leaves in spring-fall; no leaves in winter)

Yield: 5-10 gallons (20-40 liters) per female vine
Harvesting: Harvest when ripe, in autumn
Storage: Use fresh

Male (left) and Female (right) Kiwi Flowers

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

Zone: 2-7
Plant Type: Vigorous, woody vine
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Vine, climber
Cultivars/Varieties: Over a dozen cultivars (male and females)


Pollination:

  • Kiwis are dioecious (male and female plants).
  • You need one male vine for up to eight females.
  • Some self-fertile cultivars exist

Flowering: Late spring


Life Span

  • Years to Begin Bearing: 3-8 years
  • Years to Maximum Bearing: 11-16 years
  • Years of Useful Life: 30 years

Kiwi vine trellised to an arbor.


PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
Size: Vigorous vine that can grow to over 100 feet high into trees if allowed.
Roots:  Heart-shaped (a number of main roots all spreading out and down)
Growth Rate: Fast


Beautiful foliage of this Hardy Kiwi: Arctic Beauty

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
Light: Full Sun (preferable)
Shade: Tolerates moderate shade
Moisture: Medium
pH: 5.1-8.5

Special Considerations for Growing: 

  • Tolerant of most garden conditions, but really needs well drained soils (mounds?)
  • Does not tolerate late spring frosts well - kiwis leaf out early and young shoots are not frost resistant
  • Cats are attracted to the chemicals in young leaves.
Propagation: Layering or softwood cuttings.


Maintenance:

  • Pruning annually to keep within a manageable size.
  • May need nitrogen and potassium to sustain heavy cropping
  • 
Disease/Pests: Few, but Japanese beetles are fond of Kiwi



Concerns:  Can grow very fast and high if not controlled.


Kiwi allowed to grow in a hedge.


Hardy Kiwi

5 comments:

  1. Hi, any idea where I can get this in the UK?

    My email address is dgabriel.ichb@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Order them online! http://www.victoriananursery.co.uk/Kiwi_Jenny/
    make sure they are the right ones for your temperature zone!
    You need male and female.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have a picture of kiwi as a hedge, but how do you do this? What support? How close together.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have some red alder that frustrate me because they don't produce anything but shade.. I'm considering planting hardy kiwi at the base and seeing if they will take over. My theory is that the alders which fix nitrogen will be a great trellis for the kiwi and that growing them this way will require less maintenance than a wooden trellis. Perhaps a little difficult to harvest. I'll try to remember to report back.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have some red alder that frustrate me because they don't produce anything but shade.. I'm considering planting hardy kiwi at the base and seeing if they will take over. My theory is that the alders which fix nitrogen will be a great trellis for the kiwi and that growing them this way will require less maintenance than a wooden trellis. Perhaps a little difficult to harvest. I'll try to remember to report back.

    ReplyDelete