Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kiwi Vines In Coastal Winter

The two kiwi vines we have on our metal structure look very bare in January. The leaves decided to fall all at once during the cold weather in December. All that is left are long bare branches and vines twining with brown kiwi fruit hanging from the vines. It is stark to look at, the fruit hanging on one side of the structure and the bare branches sticking up four or five feet up in the air. All the big green leaves are gone, leaving the shape of the vines surrounding the long pipes of the metal structure. We tried one of the fruits to see how ripe they were. Still very tart but close to ripening so unlike last year when the fruit never ripened we are hoping for some sort of successful harvest of the kiwi fruit.

The vines cover a very large area of the back yard, edged up against the line of butterfly bushes on the back fence. Trimming up the vines is something I leave until winter when the vines are bare. Currently we have many branches sticking up in the air that could be trimmed back closer to the structure. Sometimes the vines are headed the right way, curving and following the metal structure while other times the branches head straight up going nowhere. It can be impressive to see the towering branches sailing above the structure as you drive up to the back of our house. In the coming weeks when the rain subsides I will find time to cut the branches back with my long clippers. Even with the five foot clippers it is still a stretch to reach some of the branches.

I have found when trimming back the branches on the kiwi vines there is not much you can do to hurt the vines. I have not studied up on how to trim the kiwi vines and have had no problems with pruning the vines back over the last three years. Fortunately the kiwi is a very hardy vine and a trim doesn't seem to change anything with the vines other than shaping them as I'd planned. Flowers and fruit still appear every year and the vines are covered with leaves in the spring and summer. If you are trimming your kiwi vines by all means read up on pruning but a trim cutting branches back to the main vine does not seem to cause problems with the vines. The view of the new kiwi leaves leafing out in spring, and the huge green leaves and blossoms appearing by summer is one of the highlights of my coastal garden.

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