This is all the kiwis I was able to harvest from my kiwi vines this year. Despite my best efforts to keep the late spring frost from killing the blossoms, the left me with only this little handful of kiwis to enjoy.
And enjoy them I will. These will be the best damn hardy kiwis I have ever had. But to be fair, I have only had 10 prior to this, which would be the entirety of last year’s harvest. And for those, I had to wait three long years. Believe it or not, that makes me a lucky hardy kiwi grower. Some people have to wait for up to five years to see any fruit.
What I am really waiting for is for these babies to hit their full production stride. A fully producing female vine can produce up to 250 pound of fruit in a season. I think that could go a long way to keeping any household regular.
Some farmers have started growing them as well as a cash crop. I have started seeing “kiwi berries” or “baby kiwis” in the store recently. These are actually hardy kiwis. Outrageously expensive, which means that they should be all the rage as the newest and trendiest fruit for parties, showers and the occasional bar mitzvah.
My kiwis grow in big old whiskey barrels and they stay out all winter long. That says something for the resilience of this plant. Solid frozen ground doesn’t faze them, not even a little.
My hardy kiwi also grows like a monster. The darn thing will wrap itself around anything that it can reach and its reach grows by about six to seven feet every season. To keep this plant animal tamed, I normally prune it back hard in early spring, making sure to leave some of last year’s new growth.
Then occasionally during the summer, when a wandering vine tries to make a grab at a nearby plant or one of the pets and kids, I lope the offending vine off. It is not the healthiest thing for the plant, but you would not believe how fast this plant can grow. Well, maybe you would believe it if you already own a wisteria. Either way, without summer pruning or a whole lot of room to let this baby run, this plant can quickly take over an area.
But while this rapid growth behavior may be inconvenient in a smaller area, it makes this plant an excellent choice for a privacy or green screen.
The reason I bought this plant was that I had seen pictures of it growing up the garden wall of Skylands, one of Martha Stewart‘s mind boggling empire of multi-million dollar homes (some women buy shoes, she buys houses. Everybody has to have a hobby, I suppose).
The vines were decades old and were as thick as your arm. The foliage is as dense as ivy, the vines grow as fast as wisteria and *bonus* it produces a tasty edible snack.
You should note though, that if you intend to grow these as both a screen and a food crop, you need a sturdy support for it. Remember the whole 250 pound of fruit per plant? They mean it. You will need to plan to support that, even if it is 10 years down the road before you will need that kind of support.
Another thing to note is that hardy kiwi have an imperfect flower. This does not mean that the flowers are inferior, but rather that you need a male and a female plant in order to produce fruit.
The male kiwi plant is a bit of a whore as well. It can keep up to six females satisfied and producing. Just call him Pimp Daddy Kiwi.
You know, I really could just go on and on about this plant. It is one of my favorites in the garden. But the hour is late and six little kiwis are softly calling my name. Goal for next year… 6 pounds. Of course it will be helpful if Mother Nature would lay off the Late May Frosts.