KIWI FRUIT or CHINESE GOOSEBERRY (Actinidia arguta)
Kiwi fruit are native to China and Japan, but the common name of Kiwi fruit came about as the plants were recently commercially exploited in New Zealand. In the wild it is a deciduous climber growing up to 15 m, up trees in moist conditions.
Health Benefits. Rich in fibre, vitamins E, K, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and are low in calories.
This plant is now being offered for sale at a very reasonable price, with new self-fertile cultivars available. Previously, you had to plant both male and female plants to get any fruit, and the plants were rather rampant climbers.
The modern cultivars, in our climate should be grown in normal moist garden soil in full sun in a sheltered position, especially in Northern UK. As it is a vine, it will need a trellis or other form of support to climb up. It is a hardy plant and should tolerate as much as - 15 C during the Winter while it is dormant. However, the young spring growth can be damaged by frost and you may need to protect it with fleece in the spring in the North.
Fertiliser should be a slow release fertiliser such a bone meal.
Pruning. As the Kiwi flowers and fruits on the currant season’s growth, these must not be touched. Pruning of the previous year’s shoots should be carried out in the Spring, just before the buds break. New season’s growths should then break from the remaining buds.
Issai. The fruit are up to 4 cm in diameter, smooth skinned, of good quality, flavour and sweet, but smaller than the ones you see in the shops. The fruits will be seedless when there is no male pollinator present. The fruit should be ready to harvest between August and October. Fruit can be produced in the first or second years without requiring a male pollinator, but the yields will be better if there is a male pollinator present. After 5 years, the plant could reach a height of 3 m and a width of 5 m. If the plant becomes too rampant, trim the new season’s growth.
Storage of fruit. It should keep for several weeks if picked when ripe and stored in a fridge.
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