Growing Kiwis in Iowa

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Most people think that kiwis are a tropical fruit, but really they come from the temperate part of Siberia (think North Korea and the northern part of Japan).   New Zealand, famous for kiwis, isn’t even a very tropical place.    There are varieties that are better in warmer climates, but also a few that thrive in cooler climates down to USDA Zone 3, like Arctic Beauty (which are what mine are).     I’m in the middle of Zone 5.

I believe this is their fourth season.   Under ideal conditions they would have produced fruit a year or two earlier and have more growth but we had some late frost the past couple of years that stunted them.   This year they’re going nuts with growth.   So far it’s been a good spring as far as rainfall and temperatures go, so pretty much everything is doing fine.

There’s only a handful of kiwis on the plant.  I suppose I should say that the kiwi on the left is male and the right is female.  Only the females  produce fruit, but you need a male for pollination….and I suppose I should say it’s been a really bad year for pollination because both of my beehives died and I’m not seeing anywhere near as many bees as I normally do.   The male is a little bushier in its growth habit, but part of that is the fact there’s a raspberry plant that decided to grow there and it makes it look like it’s bushier.   That raspberry is a volunteer from the guy across the fence’s plants – they’re really good black raspberries.   I planted another female Arctic Beauty kiwi on another leg of that pergola a month ago.

I think growing stuff like this is fun to grow because not everyone has kiwis in their backyard and I’ve been playing around more lately with things that are suited for this climate but not widely grown (aronia, seaberry, gojis, etc.).   Really it’s kind of sad that most people usually only eat a handful of different fruits that usually come in from thousands of miles away when there’s a ton of things that can be grown locally if we A. grow them and B. open up to the idea of consuming them.    Don’t get me wrong, I like bananas and other things that come from the other side of the world, but I think we would all be better off in a lot of ways if we would open up to some of the things we can grow close to home.



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