The Content Of The Article:
- Appearance and growth
- Location and ground
- Planting and care
- Education and editing
- Harvest and recovery
- Diseases and pests
Kiwi berries, also called mini-kiwis, do not look very similar to the large, hairy kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) and the slightly acidic smooth-shelled Actinidia chinensis with yellow flesh. The latter two know most people only from the supermarket, because both species grow in Germany only in very wintermilden winegrowing regions. Their fruits in this country also remain much smaller and are less sweet than the most from Italy, southern France, Chile or New Zealand derived supermarket kiwis.
Depending on the variety and origin, kiwi berries can hold up to -35 degrees of frost and can therefore be grown throughout Germany. Like the large kiwis, they belong to the family of the raycole family (Actinidiaceae). The best-known mini-kiwi is the variety 'Weiki', a cultivated form of the wild species Actinidia arguta. However, there is a whole series of other hardy kiwi berries that have emerged, inter alia, from crosses of the game species Actinidia melanandra, Actinidia purpurea and the popular with us as an ornamental plant wild-flowered ray stylus (Actinidia kolomikta). Depending on the species of origin, the different varieties have a green, yellow-green, light or dark red, smooth, edible shell and usually also correspondingly colored pulp. They are spherical or oblong and vary in size between gooseberries and small plums.
Appearance and growth
All kiwi berries are looping climbing shrubs with long thin shoots. They can grow to heights between three and six feet and have a smooth, gray-brown bark, which are occupied by older shoots with large, white lenticels. Almost all varieties are dioecious, that is, each plant carries only male or female flowers that open in June. They are usually creamy white and are in shamrocks in the leaf axils. The alternate leaves are eight to twelve inches long, elliptic to ovate and pointed at the top. They show a bright yellow autumn color, which often starts early.
Like the larger kiwis, the small kiwi berries are very rich in vitamins. Above all, they contain a lot of vitamin C and E - 100 grams of fruit cover just under 90 percent or almost 50 percent of the daily requirement.
Location and ground
In their East Asian homeland, the various kiwi species grow mostly as spiraling lianas in forests. They prefer permeable and evenly moist, cool soils with a high proportion of humus. The pH should be in the weakly acidic range, much lime in the soil do not tolerate kiwi berries. The location should be sunny in the crown area and half shady at the "foot". The more sun the fruits can fill, the sweeter they become.
Planting and care
The best planting time for mini kiwis is the spring. Use as much humus as possible in the preparation of the soil. Deciduous or bark composts are suitable for this, but also well rotted cattle dung, as kiwis are no food deviants. After planting the root area should be mulched with a layer of bark compost so that the soil does not dry out so quickly. Since the root system of all very kiwis runs flat, you should refrain from any tillage. In sunny locations a mulch cover is indispensable, otherwise the soil heats up too much and the near-surface roots dry up. Since kiwis are climbers, they are placed on a pergola or a trellis with horizontal tension wires, as it is used for growing blackberries. The further care is limited in the case of the robust plants: In dry summers, kiwi berries should be watered in time, otherwise they quickly suffer from drought damage. In spring, the plants are supplied with horn meal or with an organic berry fertilizer.
Education and editing
For a high fruit yield with low cutting effort kiwi berries are best raised on a trellis with four horizontal tension wires. The top wire should be one meter high, the bottom one 40 centimeters high and the other two equally spaced therebetween. After planting, leave only the strongest main shoot of the kiwi, shorten it to about 60 centimeters in length and fasten it vertically with soft PVC hollow cord on the lower tension wire. In the course of the season, a drive extension forms, which is attached vertically to the next tension wire and a hand's breadth is cut off. From the new side shoots you direct the two strongest horizontally in opposite directions along the lower wire, all other side shoots are cut off. In this way, you continue to grow the plant until it has four horizontal leading drives in both directions. Laterally shoots develop on these, at the base of which flowers and fruits form in the same year.The fruit shoots are cut in the summer about four to five leaves behind the last fruit and cut after the harvest to one or two buds. The shoot ends of the leading drives should also be cut annually, so they do not become too long. Except for the planting cut, all thicker cutting measures are best taken in summer or autumn, as the shrubs bleed heavily in the spring.
For the espalier education leave the juvenile plant only the strongest shoot and cut it a hand's breadth above the first tension wire (left). The strongest side shoots are tied to the first tension wire, the extension of the drive further led upwards and again shortened (right)
The side gears of the leading gears shorten in the summer and the center drive pull you further vertically up to all tension wires are occupied
If you want to guide your kiwi berries along a pergola as normal climbing plants and do not care about optimal fruit yield, you can do it with less cut. The main shoots are directed in different directions, and the plants are simply thinned out in the fall after harvest by cutting back the oldest shoots to younger side shoots. During the season you can shorten too long or disturbing shoots at any time, as all kiwis are very cut compatible.
Apart from the self-fertile species 'Issai' (large photo above), mini-kiwis are dioecious plants - almost all other types of fruit are exclusively female flowers. Therefore, kiwi berries need a male plant as a pollinator in their environment. This is also recommended for self-fertile varieties, since the yields are otherwise very low. One usually plants a vegetatively propagated male specimen of the wild species Actinidia arguta as a pollinator - but it is not suitable for all varieties, since the number of sets of chromosomes depending on the origin in the different breeds is not always identical. Here you have to ask the garden retailer for a suitable pollinator plant.
Male kiwi flowers of Actinidia arguta
Basically, a male kiwi berry is sufficient to fertilize up to eight female plants. If you buy a mini kiwi in the garden center, a male specimen often grows in the pot, so you do not have to make any varieties to fertilize. The transmission of pollen is done by bees, bumblebees and other insects.
Harvest and recovery
Crop berries are kiwi berries, depending on the variety, from mid-September to late October. It takes about three years for newly planted plants to bear fruit for the first time. The yield of a plant is ten to 20 kilograms. The ripe fruits can be recognized by the fact that the skin has turned out well. If the pulp is still hard, let the berries ripen in the house for two to three weeks. If you put a few ripe apples in the harvest basket, the maturation will be accelerated. Cut the mini kiwis as whole grapes. When you pick individual fruits, the shell often breaks and the fruit has only limited shelf life. Ripe kiwi berries are suitable for fresh consumption, but can also be processed into jam, compote or juice. In addition, they are freshly mashed an excellent ingredient for vitamin-rich smoothies. In the fridge, the ripe mini kiwis stay fresh for about three weeks. For further processing, you can also freeze the fruits.
Through offshoots, all mini-kiwis can be propagated varietal. You simply direct a rank drive through the earth and wait until it has formed its own roots. Then cut it off the mother plant and transplant it.
Diseases and pests
Mini kiwis are largely resistant to diseases and pests. In recent years, however, an infestation was observed with the cherry vinegar fly.