This isn’t your grocery-store variety of fuzzy fruit. Instead of peeling ‘Issai’ hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta), you pop the smooth-skinned nugget into your mouth for a taste that’s sweeter than the store-bought kind. The plant survives down to subzero temperatures and produces an abundance of fruit in spring. Unlike other hardy kiwi, ‘Issai’ doesn’t need a male plant to pollinate it.
Set the vine out whenever the soil is workable. Choose a sunny location that is protected from wind and has well-drained soil; water and fertilize regularly. Train the 20- to 30-foot-long twining growth on a fence or arbor, or grow it on a trellis in a large pot and trim the vine periodically.
Harvest fruit while they’re still firm in early fall. Test a few for ripeness by softening them in a paper bag and then tasting them. If the fruit isn’t sweet, wait a couple of weeks before picking more. Harvest all of them before the first frost and store hard fruit in airtight bags in the refrigerator.
Look for plants at nurseries or order from Burnt Ridge Nursery (360/985-2873).