For the Love of Kiwi Part 1

The kiwi fruit…also known as Chinese gooseberries…is one of our favorite fruits. Per serving, this little super food is packed with amazing nutrition that our taste buds just scream for. It’s like our mouth knows how good this fruit is for us. Check out this bad boy’s nutritional content here.

Living on a homestead in Colorado has its many perks, but having a fresh supply of kiwi fruit is not one of them. Farmer’s markets come around during the summer/fall season and the closest Whole Foods is 40 minutes away so needless to say, it is an occasional treat.

As I was cutting into my daughter’s favorite snack one day, she asked me, “Mommy, why don’t you grow your own kiwi? You grow everything else?” Not having a sufficient answer for her, I decided to start my research.

With my growing season cut short by late and early frosts and not having an official greenhouse….yet….I needed to know if I was even able to accomplish growing this delicate fruit. It’s not as simple as planting a seed, transplanting into a large pot, and waiting for the fruit to appear. This little plant has challenged the inner-gardener in me for sure!

First, you need male and female plants…. who knew? The vines do not self-produce, so you need both. One male vine should be able to pollinate up to 8 female vines.  Find out how to tell the difference between male and female vines here.

Second, you need space. Planting each vine up to 12′ apart can get a little tricky. Finding an area that has well-drained soil and full sun with that much space is going to be a problem for smaller backyards, but not impossible. They like it warm but not hot so if your region gets excessively hot, find a shaded place for them during the hottest part of the day. A seasonal trellis can help with this.

Third, you have to fight the frost.  If you’re like me and live in a harsh winter zone, you’ll have to take extra precautions during extreme, early, and late frosts.  Protecting your vines a few times during these unpredictable seasons will pay off for you in the end.  Extra mulching and even covering with plastic will help to ensure the survival of your vines.

If you can adjust to these growing conditions, then you can grow your own kiwi. So let’s get started at the beginning…

1. Choose your fruit. Select a nice organic fruit to harvest your seeds from.

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2. Slice your fruit lengthwise, then scooping out as many seeds as you can. I place them on a paper towel to help absorb liquid.
3. Next you have to dislodge any flesh from around the seed. The best way that worked for me was to place seeds in a stainless steel Tea mesh ball.  Rinse repeatedly until all fruit is removed from seed.
4. Place seeds in a glass jar, fill with water and set in a sunny area for about a week. Be sure to change the water everyday to discourage any bacterial growth.
5. Once you see the seeds start to crack open it is time to place them in their make-shift green house. I did this by using a plate, paper towels, and an old plastic food container. Place a paper towel on a plate and saturate with water. Scatter your seeds around the paper towel. Poke several holes into the plastic container and then place it over seeds. Place your little greenhouse in sunny, draft free area for 4-6 more days until you see sprouts. Make sure the paper towel is constantly wet.

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6. Once 1/8″ sprouts have emerged from the seed, you may then transplant the seeds into seed-starting containers. Use a good seed-starting soil, organic of course. I use this  organic potting mix.

In about 6-7 days your sprouts will have emerged and you’re well on your way to kiwi fruit.

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7. Water daily, to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Once your little vines have developed a strong root system, you can transplant them into larger containers to help them grow.

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8. Once the kiwi vines are hardened off, you will transplant the vines into their final resting place. Water well until the roots have taken hold. Mulching will help keep the moisture in.

Now it’s time to enjoy the ‘fruit’ of your labor…hope you’re patient. It only takes 3-5 years for your vines to produce fruit but it will be worth the wait. Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this post. Happy planting!!

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