Winter has arrived! It’s the first of June and today I harvested my kiwi fruit. Kiwis, or Chinese Gooseberries, grow really well in Blackheath. They’re quite amazing as a winter fruit crop because you can keep them for a very very long time without them rotting. They’re low calorie and high in nutrients, and a large crop could see you through most of winter.
Everyone I know who grows kiwis has already harvested them (from early May on), but I’ve been waiting because I’ve had so much other fruit to enjoy first. Today I also picked raspberries, strawberry guavas and cumquats and I’m still working my way through medlars. Not bad for winter in Blackheath.
Netted kiwi fruit
I was able to delay my harvest because they’ve been netted – I’m not the only one who loves them! Today, however, I saw that another ‘fan’ had attempted to eat one through the net. That’s always a good indicator that it’s time to bring ’em in.
It’s always tricky with kiwis because you pick them while they’re still quite hard. You really only know if they’re ripe if the seeds have turned black. They gradually soften after you’ve harvested them. I taste tested one today, even while hard, and it was so delicious.
Interestingly, the reason they’re called Kiwi fruit is because in 1904 a New Zealand school teacher brought seed back from China where they grew wild, and they took off over there.
If you decide to grow kiwis, the most important thing to remember is that you need at least two plants, one male and one female, because they’re dioecious and need each other to reproduce. If you want more than two, buy more females. The males produce the pollen and the females bear the fruit. Apparently it’s now possible to buy male and female grafted onto one rootstock but I haven’t seen them yet.
The other thing to remember is that they’re ridiculously vigorous and can grow more than 5m in one season. You’ll need to plant them where you have plenty of room and strong supports for them to grow on, and you’ll need to prune them back every year.
Growing over a strong pergola.
We planted them against a strong pergola next to our chook shed. It’s created a lovely entertaining space in summer and keeps our chooks cool too. When the kiwi’s leaves come off in winter it also becomes a sunny place to enjoy.
The other important thing is to make sure you give them plenty of water to get established.