Learning Download: How to Grow Kiwis

From Seed to Harvest: A guide to growing kiwi.

Kiwi is a sweet fruit that many may believe is too tropical to grow in their garden. however, hardy kiwi plants are quite common and can grow in zines 3-8. Kiwi plants typically need milder winters or a frost-free season to grow to their best potential. Some kiwi plant varieties have adapted to cooler climates and can grow there, as well. Kiwi fruit are also known as the Chinese gooseberry. 

To plant:

When planting kiwi, be sure to either plant a self-pollinator or both male and female plants so the plants will produce fruit. Plant the vines atop a raised mound of dirt, and space kiwi plants 10 to 18 feet apart since they require a lot of room. Sometimes, gardeners will begin their kiwi plants in containers so they can better care for them and easily move the plant to protect it from harsher weather.  

To grow:

Kiwi prefers full sun and well-draining soil. Kiwi plants are vining, and they require a decent amount of space to spread out and grow, sometimes up to 20 feet per plant. Be sure to train the vines along a fence or a trellis to keep them contained. Annual pruning will enhance fruit production because the kiwi fruit grows on new growth that is only one year old. Also, be sure to mulch around the plants to retain moisture and deter weeds. Once the plants are established, water them daily. 

To harvest:

The kiwi reaches its full size in August, but it is not ready to pick until its seeds turn black, which is usually in October or November. Kiwi are ready to harvest when they are firm, but starting to give a little when gently squeezed. Kiwi continues to ripen once it has been removed from the vine. When picking, remove the larger fruits first and let the smaller kinds remain on the vine to ripen a little further. Snap the stem at the base of the fruit to harvest the kiwi, but handle the fruit gently because it will bruise easily. 

What kiwis crave:

Kiwi plants do best in soil that is slightly acidic, and if planted there, be sure to fertilize the kiwi plants in March and also just before the fruit is about to set, which is usually in June. If kiwi has been planted in basic soil, fertilize them in March. Along with a fertilizer, side dress the plant with straw or manure. Young kiwi plants can grow well with 2 ounces of nitrogen fertilizer applied per year, but plants 6 years and older require up to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per year. Use a 10-10-10 all-purpose fertilizer, but you can supplement your plants with ammonium nitrate and urea as well. 

Where to buy kiwi plants:

You can find kiwi plants at Urban Farmer.