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Kiwi is a fruit that is considered a bit exotic even though it has been grown and eaten for centuries. It is originally from China, where it has been grown for more than 2000 years, and for many years has been called “Chinese Gooseberry” because its cultivation is very similar to the vine.
The kiwi is a mid-life grapevine and belongs to the deciduous, self-fertilizing and other fertilized plants. It grows in creeping shrubs and is closely related to camellias. Its leaves are quite large and heart-shaped. The stem is soft, and when the kiwi blossoms, it is adorned with beautiful small, white flowers. As the kiwi is a bicameral plant, its seedlings are divided into those with male and those with female flowers, so care must be taken when planting both. Mainly five female seedlings are planted with one male to pollinate the other.
Kiwi fruits are up to 2 inches in size, brown in color, cylindrical and entire covered with hairs. Their skin is thin, and beneath their skin, the fruit is green and fleshy. Inside the fruit, in the middle, is a white area around which tiny black seeds are laid.
Kiwi is also grown as an ornamental climbing plant, which can protect the garden, terrace or balcony from the sun and unwanted views. In the garden, a fence can be formed from the kiwi, which will give the red bristles growing on the kiwi an additional attractiveness. However, keep in mind that under these conditions the kiwi will not produce so well unless it is planted in an area of warm climate all year round.
There are several types of kiwi grown in the world, and some of the most famous varieties are female varieties:
And male varieties:
Planting a kiwi
Kiwi is planted in windproof positions as it can be fatal to shoots. Therefore, it must be planted either in areas where there is no wind or windbreaks should be raised, such as olive trees.
Before planting, it is necessary to do a soil analysis and determine fertilization and land reclamation. The terrain is then cleared, flattened and trimmed. After fertilization, it once again plows 16 inches deep. Prior to planting, an armature must be installed along which the kiwi stem will climb.
The planting ground must be prepared in the summer or fall in order for the kiwi to be planted during winter or early spring. Fertilization and deep plowing are done just before planting. The ground must be cut off and holes should be dug on it, into which the seedlings will be able to enter without stalling. Seedlings are planted with some manure. It is mandatory to plant both male and female varieties on the same plantations unless a self-fertilizing variety is planted.
Kiwi can also be grown in a greenhouse, where it can provide ideal conditions for growth, especially optimal heat. However, beware of the size of the greenhouse as the kiwi needs a lot of space to grow (so it is not recommended to plant them in pots). Growing kiwis need similar conditions to tomatoes, so you can plant them together for your own needs. Propagation is done from mature cuttings, and seeds can be sown.
Kiwi needs a warmer climate and wind protection, so it is best for personal use to plant it against a wall to grow as an ornamental shrub. However, do not plant it in places where it will be in the shade for a long time, as in that case, it will yield very little fruit.
During winter dormancy, the plant can withstand temperatures up to 14 °F, but when vegetation begins, its resistance to cold sharply decreases and it can only withstand temperatures up to 30 °F. Shoots occurring in the spring are very sensitive to cold and therefore the greatest danger for them are late frosts. Fruits can suffer in the same way from autumn or early winter frosts.
For the cultivation of kiwi, the best rich soil is loam, with neutral pH value. The soil must already be rich in nutrients on the surface because the root of the kiwi is shallow. The soil must also be well-drained, so this fruit is not suited to heavy soils, acidic pH values and those soils that are not drained because they are more susceptible to disease. They also do not tolerate soils that have a lot of active lime in them.
Before planting the kiwi, the soil must be examined and, on the basis of its composition, the necessary mineral fertilizers must be added, plowing to a depth of 16 inches.
Kiwi needs the most water as it grows. It does not like stagnant water but the humidity of the air and the earth. This is why plantation irrigation is recommended, especially in areas where summers are hot and dry, with uneven rainfall throughout the year.
Kiwi plantation maintenance
Due to the shallow roots of the kiwi, the soil is not often cultivated in plantations. If it is to be done, the processing must be as shallow as possible. Care must be taken not to damage the roots and to maintain soil moisture. Therefore, it is advisable, especially in heavier soils, to prune the groves.
In the first year of cultivation, the main shoots need to be pinched. Pinching is the removal of the vegetative tips of the shoots, ten days before flowering. This should be done three times, every 24 inches, or when the shoot on its tips curls 3 to 4 times in several inches. With this method, we will create a strong and straight shoot that will form the basis of a future fruit trunk.
The kiwi is pruned by winter and summer pruning. Winter pruning is done in January or February, while the plant is dormant, about a month before it should bloom. With this pruning, we determine the most favorable number of one-year shoots and shoots that will replace the main conductor. All other shoots are eliminated.
In summer pruning most of the unnecessary branches and shoots are removed to allow the canopy to be ventilated and illuminated. There are three green pruning operations in the year, the first in spring, the second after flowering, and before large fruit growth, and the third before early August.
Be careful when trimming that you do not accidentally cut off fruitful shoots. The kiwi must be pruned regularly and well, otherwise, it will spread into a messy shrub. Provide him good support and tie him in because the branches are very strong. Bind the shoots in summer and shorten the plants in autumn.
In the first two years, the kiwi should be fertilized with nitrogen fertilizer, each plant individually, several times, with less manure. In the first year, it is fertilized with 30 g of urea, which is given 3 to 4 times, distributed in 1 to 2 squares around the seedling. This is done during the growing season or from March to August if the plantations are irrigated.
In the second year the plantations are fertilized with twice as much fertilizer spread over twice the area around the plant, but only twice a year, once in March and once in May.
If you have a proper irrigation system, you can fertilize this way as well.
Because the kiwi needs water to bear fruit and does not tolerate drought, especially during the summer months, it needs to be irrigated. It is best to put a drip irrigation system in the plantations. In the first year of cultivation, it is sufficient to provide one dropper per plant, in the second one is added, and later two more.
Instead, you can irrigate the kiwifruit by spraying above the canopy and spraying water 24 inches above the ground.
Kiwi is highly resistant to diseases and pests, although it can sometimes be diseased. If it is planted on unfavorable soil, especially on heavier soil containing water, it may suffer from root rot, from drying out the rosary, or from bacterial rot of the flowers. For these diseases, preventative protection is best, namely planting healthy planting material and planting on light, drained soils.
Care should also be taken with subsequent tillage when maintaining the plantation. Any processing around the roots should be done with care so as not to damage it. Pruning time should also be adjusted. It is always done in dry weather to prevent plant infections. For the same reason, tools must also be disinfected before each pruning.
In case the plant is attacked by Scale insect, it should be protected with mineral oils and it should also be protected against snails. Interestingly, cats can also be a threat to kiwifruit. They like to rub themselves around the kiwi stalks because their scent reminds them of Catnip (which is extremely attractive to them and has a relaxing effect on them). By rubbing them, cats can damage the stem and even cause it to dry.
The kiwi begins to be harvested in the fourth or fifth year after planting. It ripens from late October and can be harvested until late winter unless it is threatened by the possibility of frost. For this reason, the greenhouse is the ideal place for growing. The fruits are harvested when they reach physiological maturity. It is a little more difficult to determine exactly when it occurs because the kiwi does not change externally as it matures. However, if it is large enough and harvested, it is likely that it is mature enough.
The kiwi needs to be only slightly softened as it is harvested, if too soft, it means that it has already begun to rot. Maturity can also be determined by its seeds, which in the ripe fruit must be completely black. After harvesting, the fruits are placed in wooden crates. Although the fruits are hard, they are still sensitive to impact because their skin is thin and does not offer much protection.
The kiwifruit must be completely dry during harvesting and storage. For household purposes, it is stored in a refrigerator, in plastic bags with small holes drilled. Thus, the fruit can stay fresh for up to half a year.
If the kiwifruit is stored in storage, it must be dry and airy, with temperatures above 32 °F.
Medicinal properties of kiwi
Kiwi is nowadays considered to be a super-fruit, because of the many healthy nutrients it contains. It is rich in antioxidants, mostly vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, polyphenols, and fiber.
It is eaten mainly to boost immunity and improve digestion, as it has a laxative effect. Kiwi reduces bloating, winds, abdominal pain, constipation, and hard stool. To improve its effect, it is recommended to eat it for breakfast, preferably on an empty stomach, as this will stimulate digestion throughout the day and stimulate bowel movements in the morning. In addition, it is recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome because it balances their work.
This helps the kiwi to prevent bowel cancer, significantly reducing the risk of disease. It is also aided by its antioxidant properties, which generally boost immunity and protect the body against infections.
Kiwi’s ability to improve protein breakdown also helps to maintain balance in the body. Undigested proteins accumulate toxins in the gut, causing a variety of health problems. Proteolytic acid in kiwi is an enzyme that breaks down even the hardest digestible proteins, while the prebiotic inulin and phenols in it balance the intestinal flora.
With all this, kiwi regulates blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, speeds up metabolism, relieves symptoms of depression and improves cognitive function, prevents asthma and is great for pregnant women as it promotes better fetal development.
Kiwi in the kitchen
Kiwi is most commonly eaten raw, as delicious and ripe fruit. Its consumption is most common during cold winter days because, in addition to giving birth in the winter months, the nutrients from its fruits protect the body against a variety of colds and viruses. It is excellent as part of fruit salads but also cakes. Kiwi can be used in many cakes and desserts.
In cooking, kiwi is still used to soften fish and meat. In addition, kiwifruit can also be processed into marmalades, syrups, sweet spreads, creams, ice creams, and various juices.
Weight loss drinks often contain kiwi juice, just like a variety of cocktails, because it goes well with alcoholic drinks tequila, bourbon, and Campari.
Interesting facts about the kiwi
Only after the fruit had spread around the world and reached New Zealand in the early 20th century did the locals name it kiwi, after their endemic bird species whose body and feathers truly resemble this fruit. Today, New Zealand, after Italy, is the largest kiwi producer in the world, followed by Chile, France, Greece, Japan, and the USA. Previously, the kiwi was the national fruit of China.
Today, kiwi is grown all over the world, especially in countries with warmer climates. Kiwi fruit is very healthy, rich in vitamins and minerals that boost immunity, protect the body against infections and keep it healthy. The healing properties of this fruit are good for us in winter, during the cold and viral feeding, which is the time and when this fruit ripens.