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Plans to revive a kiwifruit orchard  RSS feed

Posts: 29
Location: Limpopo, South Africa. Sub-tropical, summer rainfall, 1200m.
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Hi there,

We have been living on a rented farm for the past 3 months. The owners are not farmers but someone in the distant past grew kiwifruit (Chinese gooseberry or Actinidia to distinguish it from hardy kiwi) amongst other fruit crops. Over the years the land has been neglected and Japanese knotweed has taken over most of the property, something which the owners thought looked pretty. There is an area about 600 sq.m. (about 6400 sq. feet) on a terraced slope which was mostly kiwifruit with a few avocado trees. I have some help and we have been clearing the knotweed so we can see what the story is. There are about 40 kiwifruit vines that still look in good condition. They need a good pruning but we are in the middle of summer here and the rainy season starts soon so I've decided to see if any of them flower and fruit. The plan in the meantime is to get some cover crops going - we have Japanese green radish, red clover, sunnhemp, cowpeas, barley and oats which we plan to do a mixed broadcast over the area and irrigate if the rains don't start on time. I'm not sure if it's the right or wrong time but this soil desperately needs some help, so I figured right now is the right time. In the spaces in between where individual vines have died I'd like to replace them with fruit trees that are growing in pots at the moment and get a sort of permaculture orchard going. We'll let the cover crops do their thing and then cut them back as green manure and plant some mixed pasture grasses in. In the meantime I want to construct a pergola/support to let the vines grow up after pruning. There are Eucalyptus plantations all around here so I might make use of that; not my first choice but it's what's available. We plan on using the area for pasture for chickens and wild boar eventually.

Anyway if anyone has experience growing kiwifruit, I'd appreciate some input as I'm just going on the little I've gleaned off the internet. It would be great to be able to harvest some fruit of them (kiwifruit season starts around February here) but that might be pushing it.
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