Friday, November 4, 2011

Kiwi Berries!

An on-going question I ask my garden is, "What have you done for me lately?" I have been asking my Parthenocissus quinquefolia this ever since we moved into our house six years ago. The Virginia creeper is known for its amazing displays of fall color which I have yet to see.

I've been thinking of what I could replace this vine with. My foremost requirement being something I can eat from the garden. Maybe golden hop vine? A hardy kiwi perhaps?

Well, it turns out this year my Virginia creeper looks amazing. I've never seen it turn this color before. Usually, it turns a dull brown and drops its leaves. This is what remains after last night's downpour.

I don't talk to my plants directly, but they seem to know when they may be destined to the compost heap. Thank you for the fall color! You've been spared this year.

On the opposite side of the garden is another clothesline support. The last couple of years, I have grown scarlet runner and purple pole beans. While I have enjoyed these, the space demands something a little more permanent. I thought back to my two options. I was leaning towards the kiwi berry since I need something that will compete with the bamboo sneaking under the fence from the alley. The golden hop vine seemed less vigorous. While I like the look of the hop vine, I wasn't about to take up brewing.

Before committing to a kiwi berry in my garden (also known has hardy kiwi, arctic kiwi, baby kiwi, dessert kiwi and cocktail kiwi), I tried them again. I remember they tasted a bit strange to me when I first discovered them at Berkeley Bowl about 10 years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised this time: a little tart and a little sweet with the essence of kiwi flavor in a bite-sized berry the size of a grape. Yes! This will be the newest addition to my garden.

Before getting my hopes up, I called City People's to see check their availability. I knew I was taking a chance this late in the season and a somewhat odd request. They told me they had both the straight species (Actinidia arguta) and the 'Issai' variety. I went with the 'Issai' since it's self-fertile, meaning I don't need two plants to produce fruit; a big plus for my small garden. And, my one-gallon plant was 40% off. Yay!

I set up the trellis against the old clothesline structure and planted my new kiwi berry on its center.

I lucked out on a sunny day followed by enough rain that evening to water in my new plant. Hopefully, my plan for out competing the bamboo and providing tasty kiwi berry snacks works out!


Myrnie said...

How big will this vine get?? Exciting!

Bridget Lamp said...

Thanks! They are known to grow quite big and have become weedy recently on the East Coast. I'm willing to try it out and keep on top of the pruning!

Rosie said...

How is your kiwi berry issai growing now. What worked and what did not? What is the ideal trellis system for them?

From Rosie

Bridget Lamp said...
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Bridget Lamp said...

Alas this vine died. Totally my fault! I didn't water it enough and a couple of hot days did it in. I planted a new one this year in a different location so hopefully it will take off!