Edible Landscaping

June Q & A

Question: I planted kiwis in my California garden and need to know how to trellis them so they don't take over.

Answer: You'll need a sturdy trellis to support the vigorous growth of kiwi vines. Like grapes, they can grow rampantly, taking over a pergola or fence. You can grow them over a sturdy arbor or pergola or keep them aggressively pruned and trained along a trellis like a grape vine. Here's a simple way to trellis them in a small space.

Drive 8 foot tall posts 2 feet into the ground, spaced 10-15 feet apart. Adjust the posts according to your planting distance. Brace the end posts well. Locate a kiwi plant at each post. Attach a 5-foot long cross arm, centered, at the top of each post. Run three 8 gauge wires through holes drilled in the cross arms. Place one wire on each end of the cross arm and one down the middle.

Let the individual kiwi vines grow up the post, selecting the strongest shoot and pruning off any weak canes. Allow side canes to form on either end of the main trunk at the top of the post and attach them to the middle wire. Future lateral canes that develop can be trained along the other wires. That should get you started.

Question: My peach tree set a bunch of peaches in my Michigan garden this year. Should I thin them?

Answer: Yes, peaches need to be thinned, even after their natural "June drop" in Michigan, to insure good size and flavor of the crop. Commercial growers remove up to 90 percent of the crop to insure a good harvest. If you don't thin well, the fruits will be small. It also can lead to more fruit diseases, and sometimes the weight of the fruit load can crack and break a branch.

When the fruits are the size of a small egg, thin out the peaches so they're spaced about 6 to 8inches apart. Don't let any two fruits touch each other or they will be misshapen and more prone to disease problems. Remove any obviously deformed or insect and disease ridden fruits first.

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