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Hardy kiwi

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It's hard to believe we can actually grow kiwis in this part of the world! Everyone knows about the fuzzy kiwi you see in the grocery store. You buy them by the bagful. They come originally from New Zealand, and we grow them here in California. But there is actually a kiwi that we can grow in Vermont.

This one is related to the fuzzy kiwi which is not hardy here. It's called the hardy kiwi. It grows just like a regular kiwi and is a very aggressive vine. If you're going to grow this, you need to have a pergola, a split rail fence, or some really heavy fencing to hold it up. It likes to spread and get huge.

It will grow and grow and grow, and by this time of year, because it takes a long time for kiwis to mature, you start seeing these beautiful little fruits! They aren't nearly as big as their cousins. They are about the size of a grape. Wait until they get a little bit soft, then you munch into them, and they taste just like kiwis!

You can eat the skin and all, too. You don't have to peel them like the other kiwis. Once they start producing, they can produce for years. Now the downside is you need a male and a female vine, one male will pollinate about six females. It may take up to five or six years for them to actually start producing. So you have to be patient with them.

You can grow varieties like "Anna" or "Ken's Red." There's actually one that is self-pollinating that I'm trying to grow called "Issai," which produces fruit a little bit earlier. So, if you are looking for something a little bit different to have in the garden next year and you have the right structure, and enough room to grow them, consider the hardy kiwi for your spring planting.

By Charlie Nardozzi

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