Good Gardening: Growing Kiwi Fruit

Jan 6, 2016

At this point in the winter, fresh fruit may seem like a long forgotten dream.  The frozen blue berries, and dried pears do a valiant job of substituting,  But if you want juicy moist fruit on your cereal, or in your lunch box you might think it has to spend time on a boat first, and come from the southern hemisphere.

Credit John Fischer

That's because you don't grow kiwi fruit.  Known by some as the Chinese Gooseberry, the fruit- native to China- has been given the name of a bird found in New Zealand.  Marketing.  And it has worked.  Kiwi fruit is now grown all over the world, and does exceptionally well here in Oregon.  I have several vines in the backyard that produce between 300, and 1000 egg sized kiwi fruit each year- pest free.
  Kiwi fruit have large  deep green tropical looking foliage, and they grow like a jungle vine- fast.  They need to be trimmed even in midsummer.  I've been gone for two weeks, and when I get back, the kiwi vines have reached the top of a neighboring pear tree twenty five feet away.

Credit John Fischer

But the real magic of the kiwi fruit is that you pick it in October or November, and it ripens in January, February, and March- the months voted least likely to produce fresh fruit in Oregon.
  After picking, store the fruit in a cool dry place, and then start bringing it into the house ten or twenty at a time.  It will ripen on it's own.  Placing it in a bag with an apple- from Australia- will speed up the process.
  You'll need male, and female vines to grow the storable fuzzy variety you want- Hayward.  And you'll need a strong trellis to support the vines.  Head high makes picking easier, shoulder high makes pruning easier.  The arctic kiwi fruit does not store well, and ripens in the fall, but it also grows well here.
  And while fruit production won't start for about 3 years, once it kicks in, you'll be looking for recipes, bringing kiwi to potlucks, and eating fresh fruit in winter.
  I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.