Burnett: Kiwi plants in your garden a great conversation topic

Ten years ago I planted two female and one male kiwi vine and have harvested fruit for the past eight seasons.

I have no idea how the darn birds know just when my grapes are at their perfect ripeness.

They must have scouts out testing for sweetness then when the grapes are just right they send out an all points bulletin to let the entire flock know.

In about three weeks, my kiwi will begin to ripen and, thank goodness, for some reason the birds aren’t interested in them; at least not up to this point.

You never know when they might clue in to one of the best tasting fruits on the planet.

Ten years ago I planted two female and one male kiwi vine and have harvested fruit for the past eight seasons.

Over the past three years, with the help of my good friend Sal Caruso, I have budded in some other varieties including a more prolific male he calls Chuck.

So I should be really getting some interesting production in the next year or two.

There are two common species of Kiwi Actinidia reliably hardy to the Okanagan—A kolomikta and A arguta.

The kolomikta is often referred to the Arctic kiwi or Russian gooseberry and is the hardier of the two.

In fact, it is grown quite successfully in many prairie regions.

There is a variety called ‘Assai’ which is self-pollinating which comes in handy when space is limited.

On the other hand, I find this species to be somewhat small in fruit size and premature drop is quite common.

I prefer to grow the arguta species of which there are several varieties such as Anna, Red Princess, Hardy Red, Ken’s Red and Chanbay.

They are hard to find in local nurseries but sometimes can be ordered through specialty nurseries on the net.

All are great varieties although each one can be separated from the other according to size colour flavour and productivity.

I recommend choosing an arguta type rather than the kolomikta and you can find them in the local garden centres.

I’ve seen them at Bylands as well as Dogwood.

Kiwi are vines just like grapes so a similar infrastructure is needed to support them.

Posts placed three meters apart with two taut wires between them at the two- and five-foot height is an ideal way to support your kiwi vine.

The vines should be planted at least six feet apart. My friend Sal has his climbing over an overhead pergola type structure and this seems to make better use of the space.

Kiwis are easy to grow, have no known insect or disease concerns and can be used for privacy purposes.

You don’t see too many grown here in the Okanagan yet so having this beautiful, tasty fruit in your garden can be a great conversation piece.

Kiwi jam and jelly is delicious and the fruit can be frozen in serving size freezer bags, delicious on cereal through the winter.

If you want more info or have any questions you can email me at don@thegardenexpert.com.

Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 News Talk Sports Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m.


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