|Actinidia arguta (Photo credit: Bahamutzero)|
|Hardy Kiwis (Photo credit: Hunda)|
So, can you really grow kiwis in cold climates? Actually, yes. The fuzzy brown kiwis (Actinidia deliciosa) that most people know are only hardy to zone 7, but there are hardy kiwis out there such as Actinidia arguta and A. kolomitka.
These hardy kiwis look a bit different from the fuzzy brown supermarket variety in that they are smaller and have a tender, edible green skin. They are also sweeter and more tasty in my opinion.
If you're planning to grow kiwi vines, keep in mind that they need a strong support system (the vines can reach 60 feet) and you need to have at least one male and one female plant (although one male can fertilize up to eight females).
Plan your site carefully, then choose your support system, whether an arbor, T-trellis or fence. Kiwi needs the usual deep, well-drained soil that many plants enjoy, a decent amount of water (but never let the roots get waterlogged - they're prone to rot), and at least some protection from cold and wind.
One final thing to keep in mind when deciding to grow hardy kiwi - the male and female plants should be planted about 10-16 feet apart. Yes, you'll have to build two support systems and expect well over 100 feet of vine.
Oh yes, and only the female plant will bear fruit. Don't let that bother you though, the kiwi vine and the delicately flowers are a beautiful addition to the garden any way you look at it.
And the female plant, after about 5-7 years, will bear an enormous amount of fruit - upwards of 80 pounds. Luckily, the fruits will keep well in the refrigerator (up to 8 weeks). They also make delicious jams, jellies and preserves.
The front yard at Rainbow's Acre faces to the south and is sheltered from cold northwestern winds by the house. In other words, it's a perfect heat trap in which to grow kiwi vines. All we need to decide now is what type of support we want to use for the vines (I'm thinking arbor).
Have you ever tried to grow hardy kiwi?