Kiwis in the Garden

Consider kiwis for your next garden experiment. With the right care and support, you can bring this one-of-a-kind fruit to your backyard.

Photo by Adobe Stock/ktwatanabe

Who doesn’t love the thought of growing fresh, healthy, pesticide-free fruit? And while we’re on the subject, why not consider growing something you don’t find in most backyard settings, something that’ll really wow your visitors? Why not consider kiwis?

Get to Know Kiwis

Kiwi plants are rampant woody vines, at home in lightly shaded woods and clearings, or on trellises and pergolas. They have large, attractive, glossy-green leaves and small, fragrant flowers hidden among their foliage. You’re forgiven if you think the kiwifruit is a tropical crop, unsuitable for growing in the United States. After all, it comes from New Zealand, right? Surprise! While New Zealand is one of the top producers of kiwifruit, kiwis don’t hail from Down Under. The kiwi family, which has about 50 species, comes from eastern Asia, specifically China, Korea, Siberia, and possibly Japan. In fact, China produces the most kiwifruit each year — a mind-blowing 2 million tons.

Photo by Adobe Stock/galitskaya

So how did an Asian fruit come to be named after a flightless bird from New Zealand? In a word: marketing. Just after 1900, seeds from the fuzzy fruit found their way to New Zealand. From these seeds, three vines sprouted and grew into an industry. At the time, people called these fruits “Chinese gooseberries.” However, New Zealand growers saw an opportunity to rebrand the fruit and get in a little national promotion at the same time. They named it “kiwi,” partly because it resembles the national symbol of New Zealand — that fuzzy, flightless bird, the kiwi — and partly because the people of New Zealand are also known as “Kiwis.”

Photo by Adobe Stock/beataaldridge

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