I love my hardy kiwi vine. Well, no, I take that back. I have a love/hate relationship with my hardy kiwi vine.
I love the fruit it produces. Hardy kiwis produce little smooth-skin grape sized fruit you eat skin and all, they’re more nutritious than the fuzzy-skinned kiwis you find most often in grocery stores that we’re all familiar with, they’re delicious, and can easily be preserved in the form of jam. I make a nice strawberry/kiwi jam that is actually my favorite jam for buttered toast.
I hate the vine’s poor resistance to late Spring frosts. Every other year I get no kiwi because a late Spring frost zapped all the fruit producing buds.
When I bought my vines, way back in 2004, it was not as popular a plant as it has become, it was not as widely available, and I quite frankly had no idea there was a better variety out there. Later I learned there was a better variety out there, called “Michigan State” hybridized at Michigan State University, which is a mere mile from my house. One of my biggest gardening regrets is not tracking down this variety when I planted my kiwi vines. It would surely be more perfectly suited to my weather. How often can you buy some cultivar developed for so precisely your climate? Of course it wasn’t widely available for sale back then, but that is besides the point.
Why not just buy it now? Well, I’m moving in 2015, it is known, and I wouldn’t be here to see the vine fruit. Plus, I’m out of room.
You however, you can buy it. For the very first time that I know of this plant is available from a major national distributor, Burpee. They have the Michigan State Kiwi in their new for 2013 collection. New plants typically sell out, so if you were interested I would order soon.
I do highly recommend hardy kiwis for backyard plantings. They grow well, are attractive to look at, have no pest or disease problems as far as I know (and mine have never been hit by anything), and give you nice tasty fruit in the fall. The only problem is the frost hardiness, which this cultivar deals with. A win all around. I will be planting it again at my new house when I move in 2015.