To taste the kiwis from your garden, it is necessary to plant a actinidia, a sarmentose shrub, a sort of deciduous vine. There are now thirty species of which Actinidia chinensis, certainly among the most cultivated in the world, but there are also cultivars such as the large-fruited Hayward with excellent taste qualities. Let’s not get carried away, however, because the patience is in order, an actinidia can produce kiwis only after 5 to 7 years spent in good conditions and it takes about 10 years after planting to hope to harvest more than 250 fruits each autumn. What about male, female and self-fertile feet? How to maintain your kiwi tree and when to harvest these good fruits full of vitamin C? Let’s do a check in.
Kiwi tree and pollination
In the vast majority of cases, actinidia is a dioecious plant. This means that each specimen is either male or female and in theory you have to grow both to get kiwifruit. It is the very principle of cross pollination. Specialists advise to plant 1 male foot for 4 female feet, 5 at mostin order to put the odds on your side to one day be able to enjoy an abundant production of kiwis because compatibility still has to be met…
However, you can also get a variety autofertile, a kiwifruit tree that can, on its own, produce fruit, that is to say even if there are no female specimens in its environment. For information, if you want to play the card of simplicity and cultivate only one kiwi tree, you therefore opt for example for a Actinidia chinensis ‘Solissimo’, and Actinidia chinensis ‘Jenny‘ or even for a Actinidia chinensis ‘Solo’, all three being self-fertile since the same plant bears male and female flowers. However, they produce less fruit than dioecious species.
Planting a kiwi tree (actinidia)
For this climbing shrub of the family of Actinidiaceae prosperous without difficultyit is important to install it in a non-calcareous soil, riche in nutrients but also very well draining so that its roots are not suffocated by excess water.
This climber, which can reach 5 meters in height, must be placed under the sun. In the southernmost regions, a exposition partial shade can be profitable when it benefits from light shade during the hottest hours in summer. Regardless of the geographical area in which the kiwifruit tree is grown, it must be well sheltered from prevailing winds.
It is a fairly hardy fruit tree since it can withstand up to -15°C without blinking although he has a very clear preference for mild winters. In any case, beware of the frosts that rage when vegetation resumes at the end of winter, because it is at this time of year that the already well-swollen buds are very vulnerable to negative temperatures.
Here are the steps to follow when planting kiwis
Perform the spring planting in regions with severe winters. Elsewhere, the early fall is ideal provided that it is outside frost period. This allows the vines to take root well and to bud as soon as vegetation resumes.
- Prepare a mixture of garden soil, potting soil for fruit trees and a little sand.
- Install a trellis with a strong iron wire, and which will serve as a support for the kiwis, or plan to install these fruit trees originating in China at the foot of a pergola or a arbor.
- Dig a hole of 50 cm sides and as much depth, and if it is planned to plant several actinidia, space the holes of at least 3 m.
- Place a layer of perfectly decomposed organic fertilizer at the bottom, then a good shovelful of the previously prepared mixture.
- Position one foot per hole, centrally.
- Fill the planting hole with the rest of the soil, taking care to pack well all around the foot because there must not remain any air holes likely to disturb the rooting.
- Water thoroughly planting, even in rainy weather.
It’s important to leave enough space between the kiwis and the wall near which you want to install the shrubs: 35 to 40 cm are reasonable because this allows air to circulate between the foliage of the actinidia and their support wall.
Caring for a kiwi tree
This fruit tree is easy to grow. You just have to meet all your needs.
It is essential not to let the soil dry out because drought is a real enemy of the kiwi. We therefore take care to keep the soil always moist, and the advice is worth even more during the first year after planting. Be careful however, the water must absolutely not stagnate at the foot of the actinidia, especially when it is cold because this weakens the shrub.
Install a mulch
It’s from the month of May, immediately after a very generous watering, that we install a mulch at the foot, to a height of 15 to 18 cm. This keeps the soil cool and at the same time limits the development of weeds.
In addition to the essential amendment during planting, it is necessary to add fruit tree fertilizer or an organic fertilizer in granules each spring.
Cultivated kiwis in the ground are to be protected with a winter sail for three years after planting. Those grown in container are to be stored in a bright cold greenhouse until April.
The lianas are to be trellised as they grow. They are guided throughout their support by attaching them loosely with raffia for example.
Pests and diseases
The kiwi tree can be infested withred spiders when it is very hot and dry. Misting the foliage helps get rid of these pests. We can also deplore the invasion of mealybugs which require misting with a mixture of water, methylated spirit and black soap.
We fear the bacterial disease which is called the chancre. It is caused by the bacterium PSA (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae). The affected actinidia begins to wilt, its leaves have brown spots circled with yellow, the buds turn brown, and a reddish exudate flows from the twigs. The fruits rot then fall and the tree dies.
Actinidia can also suffer or even die from infestation by Botrytis cinerea. Ce mushroomwhose development is favored in a warm and humid environment, is responsible for the gray rot. Botrytis cinerea contaminates the flowers, the fruits and more generally all the living tissues of the host plant then feeds on them when they are dead. This is called a necrotrophic fungus. The use of a fungicide is essential.
Prune the actinidia or kiwi tree
As long as fruiting has not taken place, pruning should be light so as to allow a simple balancing of the shrub. Thereafter, the size is carried out as follows:
- In summer : we simply pinch the shoots of very young shrubs to 4 leaves, then we reduce the new shoots to 4 or 5 eyes maximum in order to obtain more kiwis since this promotes fruiting.
- During the winter except when it freezes : more precisely during December or January, it is necessary to prune under the second eye which is located below the groups of fruits (bouquets). Keep only the branches of the year. All the secondary branches which gave kiwis are to be cut above the 3th or 4th eye. Of course, care is taken to keep the most vigorous branch so that it constitutes the framework of actinidia.
Harvest the kiwis from the garden
In the North, the kiwi harvest, which is also called chinese gooseberrytakes place in October or November, before the first frosts. In the South, the fruits can be picked a little later. The main thing is that they don’t suffer from frost because they can’t stand it, just as they can’t resist an icy wind which lowers the perceived temperature.
If you are lucky enough to benefit from a bountiful harvestthe kiwis must be stored in a ventilated room, at an ambient temperature of 5°C, where they can be kept throughout the winter period, that is to say for several months.