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vines that twine, and how to prune them  RSS feed

 
Kelda Miller
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I was just pruning our hardy kiwi today. It's very brambled, lots of dead wood, and only produced a handful of kiwis this year. A perfect candidate for pruning.

I read up on some pruning about it, and of course 'the books' talk about it like I've been pruning it all along and it's on some very organized espalier system. Of course that's not true.

So I've been sticking to 1) removing dead and cluttered wood and 2) cutting back long whips to 8" and 3) cutting off any vine that has twisted around another.

But, if I step back from the tangle and think for a moment Fukuoka-style: how would I do-nothing farm this? Especially I'm interested in the twining bit. The plant is strangling itself. Or is this not true?

My big question is: do vines that twine together eventually graft into a big healthy stem? Am I just fighting against the kiwis natural way? Or does it just strangle itself?

 
Leah Sattler
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I'm pretty sure it won't strangle itself. trees can and do naturally graft on to each other where they touch especially if they rub in the wind and get a bit damaged at the site. i think hardy kiwi produces fruit on new wood coming from 1 year old wood so be sure not to cut this years growth or you won't get any fruit. that is probably the reason why you find reference to pruning it so much, its just a strategy to get the most fruit. If you think about it you could probably stimulate new growth by pruning it. that will results in more year old wood to have new growth that will fruit on the following year. if you have two female  kiwi vines you could try drastically pruning each every other year on alternating years. that is just my guess though I don't have any particular expereince with kiwi and I am not particualrly knowledgable about them. great fruit though i should put that on my list of things to grow...google time 
 
Susan Monroe
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Kelda,

Here is some info on growing and pruning hardy kiwi from the Ohio State U:  http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1426.html

And from Edible Landscaping:  http://www.ediblelandscaping.com/CareGuides/Kiwi.htm

Sue
 
Kelda Miller
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I think I checked out the Ohio one before I started, enough to be disgruntled that the kiwi is a tangled mess and not on any nice trellising system.

Lots of the very smallest branchlets I'm taking off, because most are just desperate looking. Like I said, not much fruit this year. So if it takes a couple years to remedy, that's just what has to be done.

But there's very vigorous whips, sometimes twined together, sometimes free. I'm leaving plenty of those and I have a feeling that all will be well if they're spaced out and strong.

Maybe some plants just are Not candidates for do-nothing agriculture? Why have a natural, bushy mess of hardy kiwi plant that doesn't produce more than 5 kiwis...

On the other hand, I have access to old-growth grapes that produce a Major crop that tastes wonderful. Has the grape just had to adapt to itself through time, and thus powered through the strangling phase? Am I, as the pruning human, just enabling a proclivity for weakness and vines that need pampering?

hm
 
Susan Monroe
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I have a friend who has kiwi vines.  They're like a jungle.  I don't think she's every had any fruit, unless the birds get to them before she sees them.  Or, the plants may just need pruning.

Some plants just don't fit our expectations... 

I went to Google Images and typed in 'kiwi vine' and there was a site that has drawings of the 'New Zealand Renewal System' for training kiwis.  If anyone knows how to prune them, it would be the NZ folks:
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/eb1640/eb1640.html#kiwi

Sue
 
Kelda Miller
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I like the pics. I could tell at a glance that what I'm doing is cutting back to the 'fruiting arms' though I'm leaving a few of those shall-we-call-them 'fruiting subarms'.

But what's the dif between, in Figure 5, between a water shoot and a fruiting arm? Only that if I decide to leave it it will fruit? And if I decide to leave all of them they'll just be a 'water shoot' jungle/mayhem?

It's interesting to hear that someone else's hardy kiwi doesn't fruit well. I've been so much in the planting-edibles-focus that it's great to learn what that actually means when they're mature: sometimes not so much to eat, depending on the species.

But I've heard that my particular kiwi has fruited a lot in past years. That is, until the jungle set in.
 
Susan Monroe
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My Mom said 'water shoots' or 'water spouts' are the ones that grow straight up.  She said to always cut those off, even on ornamentals.  For vines, they would probably put the fruit in rather unreachable areas, or where you would damage the lower vines trying to reach them, and if you wanted to net against birds, they would be a pain to deal with.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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I have always known "water shoots" to be the same definition sue gave also. Leat us know how your pruning affects it!
 
Kelda Miller
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I'd love to post some before/after, but lets face it, I didn't work on it today. So here's some 'before' shots. In the second you'll see the twining but up close. I just Couldn't let it keep growing like that! even if it may someday graft, I just had to liberate one and kill the other. oh well



 
Susan Monroe
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That's how my friend's kiwis look. 

THE KIWIS THAT TOOK OVER THE WORLD!

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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wow! that is quite a tangle! I think you should put some giant bird eggs in there for fun. take a picture and do a satire article asking for donations to help you save the rare endangered giant kiwi birds. 
 
Kelda Miller
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Oh Leah! That reminds me of the saddest part! The Birds actually do Love this Vine! It's their Favorite Spot to Watch Me in the Morning!  And here I am turning it into nubs.

Just Where will they sit then?

So that's part of the topic at hand:
Hardy Kiwi. Sounds like a great addition to the garden, but. Requires maintenance twice a year (so I've been reading), or it becomes great bird habitat, but if its thick enough to be bird habitat then you won't get many kiwis. Good luck. Might as well plant a holly!
(joking!)

OR: as secondary uses for the Hardy Kiwi: Are you getting tired of your roof and would like to dismantle it? Or, would you like to hide an unsightly junk pile? Plant hardy kiwi! Sure to fruit the second year and then become a frigid tangle in the years to come....Unless you're into maintaining high-maintenance gals.
 
Leah Sattler
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maybe you can plant a new bush or something that the birds will like. I have a rangy golden privet in front of our house that I wacked down to the ground a few years ago. I felt bad  that winter because the birds used to sit in it and I could watch them hop around up close through the window. it has since completely grown back thankfully.
 
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