Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Virginia Kiwis!

I am currently enrolled in Beekeeping for Beginners through Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and among the many things I've learned is that Kiwis grow in Virginia. This was news to me and as someone trying my best to eat as local as possible, it came as good news indeed. As it turns out, just like most other plants, Kiwis come in multiple species and varieties. A great site to check out and view photos of just a handful of many colors and forms kiwis can take is

According to the Virgina Cooperative Extension website the form of Kiwi most commonly sold in grocery stores is the species Actinidia chinensis. According to other sites including NCSU Actinidia deliciosa is also very common among the supper market Kiwis. Most of these come all the way from New Zealand, although apparently South Carolina has been growing some commercially.
In class Kiwi was referred to as one of the Virginia crops dependent upon bees for pollination. I need to learn more about just how much and where kiwi is grown as a crop in Virginia, but for now I am excited about the possibility of growing kiwi in my own garden to satisfy my kiwi needs.

Hardy Kiwi A. arguta can produce as much as 150 Lbs of fruit per plant. These vining plants are dioacious, meaning they need a male and female plant to produce fruit ( although according to Edible Landscapes a female A. arguta can produce fruit without a male, but in limited quantities). The kiwi requires a sturdy trellis and also a long warm period of 150 frost free days to set fruit, but for most of Virginia that's not a problem.
Kiwi vines produce fragrant white flowers in the spring and yellowish-green fruits in late summer. These fruits contain twice the vitamin C as an orange and as much potassium as a banana!

If you are interested in trying to grow your own, or just want to learn more, check out the Edible Landscapes site for available varieties and their growing requirements.

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