Opinion: Recently kiwis have grown in popularity because they’re multitaskers and so easy to cultivate in the home garden. They’re fast-growing, clean plants, which produce delicious, ultra-healthy fruit.Opinion: Recently kiwis have grown in popularity because they’re multitaskers and so easy to cultivate in the home garden. They’re fast-growing, clean plants, which produce delicious, ultra-healthy fruit.Read MoreThe Vancouver Sun – RSS Feed

Opinion: Recently kiwis have grown in popularity because they’re multitaskers and so easy to cultivate in the home garden. They’re fast-growing, clean plants, which produce delicious, ultra-healthy fruit.

The foliage of actinidia kolomikta is very striking, looking as though it has been dipped in paint. jpg

Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.

There seems to be a growing interest in vines today as we’re searching for ways to capture a little more privacy around our patios and balconies.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

We need to plant vines that are very versatile and can tolerate both the heat of summer and very cold winter temperatures. It’s important that we have pest resistant varieties, avoiding mildew and those pesky aphids. We also need to consider our wide variety of sunny and shady locations, which means plants must be chosen for their endurance during the hottest, sunniest times of day, as well as tolerance for a good deal of shade.

One of the best vines, which are now becoming more widely used, are the small-fruited kiwis. There are many varieties from which to choose, but one of the most attractive and colourful is the actinidia kolomikta, also known as the Artic Kiwi.

If you would like to enjoy the delicious small fruits, you will need both male and female plants. If you’re only interested in privacy its best to select the male variety.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Both male and female plants start out with attractive green leaves, but when the weather begins to warm-up, the leaves suddenly become splashed with white, then pink, for a spectacular display that lasts well into the fall. At our gardens we had a male kolomikta smothering a huge white trellis and it became one of the most photographed sites.

Both male and female leaves splash-out with white and pink, but the male is far more vibrant and spectacular. It’s a great vine, a vigorous grower with few pest issues, and is best grown in the ground. It will do well in large containers, too, but will need lots of water in the summer, along with regular feeding, and possibly some winter protection, even though they’re hardy to – 40 C.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

As a curiosity, cats are attracted to small-fruited kiwis as it has properties similar to catnip, so your small plants will need to be protected from our feline friends.

If you’re wanting fruit as well as privacy and shade, the Japanese self-fertile actinidia Issai is perhaps the best choice. It has a little more compact growth habit, and it will usually begin to fruit within a year. The fruits are a bright green, about the size of a grape, with similar smooth, tender, hairless skins. Usually ripening in September, it’s also sweeter and more flavourful than the larger, fuzzy brown kiwis.

We enjoyed these vines on a long winding arbour in our gardens with strong midday sun and shade later in the day. Planted in the ground, they withstood some bitterly cold winters with no problems since they are hardy to -23 C. We also grew many in containers, and after about a year, they fruited on a regular basis. The sweet little fruits were always a treat later each summer.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Create a lush privacy screen with fast-growing kiwis, and you will truly enjoy the fruits of your labour before you know it. Erin Minter

Small-fruited kiwis are some of the most productive vines for the garden, but they’re widely produced commercially too. Actinidia Ananasnaya Anna is a very vigorous variety with dense clusters of sweet, oblong yellow-green, somewhat larger fruits.

Actinidia Hardy Red is a sweet, but tart variety bearing cranberry red fruit with red flesh.

Actinidia Ken’s Red is a variety from New Zealand that produces larger, purple-red skinned fruit that has very tasty red flesh as well.

All small-fruited varieties are easy to grow, and once established, one vine can yield up to 100 pounds of kiwis. Vines need at least a half-day of quality sun exposure, but they will bear fruit even if planted in a slightly shaded area. Although the self-fertile variety a. Issai will mature quite quickly, with most other varieties it will take two-to-three years before you can harvest fruit.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Virtually all other small-fruited kiwis will require both male and female plants in order to be productive. The ratio, if you’re planting several vines, is one male to about six-to-eight females for optimum pollination.

Their vigorous growth habit and weight of fruit means most kiwi vines need to be grown on sturdy supports. The easiest way is to train them on wires stretched between posts, much like you would do with vines like thornless blackberries. To accommodate the eventual size of the vines I would suggest posts be at least seven to eight feet tall.

In colder areas like Zone 4 and even Zone 5, it’s a good idea to wrap the trunks in late fall with an insulating material to about four feet above the ground, just in case we have late fall and spring cold snaps.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Each spring the vines should be pruned back to four to five buds from the main stem to control the amount of growth and optimize fruit production. Male plants can be pruned harder because you only need enough vine to produce flowers for pollination.

When planting, space some of the most vigorous varieties about 15 feet apart, and for the less vigorous, like a. Issai’ eight-foot spacing should be fine.

The smaller fruit of Issai are sweet and delicious and, as they’re self-fertile, you only need one plant for production. Erin Minter

Most kiwis ripen from late September to early October and are usually harvested after the first frost. You can gather them when they’re hard and they will keep for months under refrigeration or even in a cool, dry area.

Fuzzy kiwis, actinidia deliciosa, are a little more challenging to grow, but can be very productive. Native to China, the first commercial production was in New Zealand.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

In our area, a friend of mine grew them commercially in a sunny Zone 6 location for many years, with great success. He grew them on the wood/wire frames mentioned earlier, and optimized production in what was a very attractive layout.

His only challenge was the low prices he was getting because of the huge supply from Southern Hemisphere producers.

Many years ago, we purchased some huge four-inch caliper kiwi vines from an experimental farm. They were pruned back into an eight-foot-tall bush form, we planted them in shallow, mulched beds, and enjoyed fruit for many years with just one male plant and two female plants.

Fuzzy kiwis are now a major fruit crop worldwide with over 170,000 acres under production in 11 countries in both Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

They’re a super-fruit and rank No. 1 in nutrients when compared with 27 other fruits. They contain, among other things; serotonin and several flavonoids that promote better sleep; Vitamin A, as well as phytochemicals zeaxanthin and lutein, to protect your vision and aid in iron absorption; they have more Vitamin C than an orange; are rich in folates, which are essential for healthy pregnancies; their antioxidants can create radiant skin; they have been shown to boost immunity to colds and flu, contribute to diabetes control, improve heart health and are cytotoxic to certain malignant cancer cells. While mostly eaten fresh, they can also be used in preserves.

Recently kiwis have grown in popularity because they’re multitaskers and so easy to cultivate in the home garden. They’re fast-growing, clean plants, which produce delicious, ultra-healthy fruit.

Considering today’s fitness and well-being concerns along with high food costs, kiwis are actually a great investment.

Calendulas — or ‘pot marigold’— easy to grow and make the best cut flowers

Brian Minter: There are many ways to grow food in a well-planned manner

More news, fewer ads: Our in-depth journalism is possible thanks to the support of our subscribers. For just $3.50 per week, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun  The Province.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *