Growing Kiwis Successfully
Planting: Kiwis like full sun, moist, well-drained, humus-rich and slightly acidic soil – a pH of 5.0 to 6.5 is best. Plant your kiwi in raised beds or slightly mounded to provide good drainage. Dig hole at least one foot greater in diameter than the total spread of roots and the depth of the longest root. Fill in lower 2” of hole with mixture of 50% native soil, 50% Soil Booster and 1-2 cups of Worm Castings . Press mixture down firmly and create a mound in the center of the hole with the soil mixture. Spread out roots and fill hole completely. Apply a surface mulch of Micro Bark , a moisture-retaining fine, fir bark. This keeps soil cool, conserves moisture, adds organic matter, and controls weeds while being slightly acidic. Plant your kiwi plants10 – 15 feet apart.
Watering: Kiwis like moist soil. A uniform and adequate water supply is essential for optimum growth. Plants require approximately one inch of water or two irrigations per week from May through September - generally, two irrigations per week are adequate to maintain proper moisture. Avoid over-watering. What you are looking for is moist, not soggy soil around the roots.
Feeding: Kiwi roots are very sensitive to fertilizer burn, so over-fertilization should be avoided. Feed established plants sparingly in spring when the plants are dormant, and then just after bloom in early June with a balanced fertilizer (16-16-16) such as E.B. Stone All Purpose Plant Food or E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Food .
Pruning and Training: Support the plant on a strong, well-anchored trellis or arbor and when you plant the vine, prune it back to four or five buds, which will grow into shoots. From these a main stem should be selected and staked to grow to the top of the arbor or trellis, usually 6 – 7' high. Choose the strongest shoot to be the main trunk and tie it to the arbor, cut it off at the tip to induce new side branches to grow along the arbor. Once a month, throughout every summer, each new shoot will have to be cut back to four or five buds. This process will produce a compact, short-limbed vine, which will produce an abundance of fruits in its second or third year. You can allow a more loosely growing, less compact plant with just a single pruning during the dormant season. Trim back all branches that have borne fruits and any long non-fruiting shoots to about 18” from the branching point. This will encourage new growth for future fruit production. The kiwi fruits are produced near the base of the current year's new shoots.
Pests and Diseases: Fortunately, Kiwis have very few problems with insect pests, although Japanese beetles can be troublesome. To control, Safer's Yard and Garden can be sprayed, or simply knock the insects off one by one into a container of ammonia or soapy water.
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