Actinidia is gaining popularity in our gardens. The botanical name of the plant comes from the Greek word "actis" - a star (for the radiant arrangement of the ovary columns).
In its natural form, actinidia lives in Indochina, China, Japan, Korea. Most of the species, and there are 36 of them, have a decorative value, and only a few are food and medicinal. The largest-fruited species (fruit weight - 28-30 g) is Chinese actinidia.
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Breeding work with plants of this species was first carried out in New Zealand, where five large-fruited varieties were bred, called "kiwi", after the kiwi bird - a symbol on the coat of arms of New Zealand. They began to grow in Italy, France, USA, Germany, Bulgaria and other countries.
In our country, in the wild, actinidia grows only in the Far East - in the Primorsky Territory, on South Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. Three species live here: actinidia kolomikta, actinidia arguta, or sharp-toothed, and actinidia polygamous.
In amateur gardening, two of its types are most widespread: actinidia argut and actinidia colomicta. For gardeners in the Non-Chernozem Zone of Russia, actinidia kolomikta is of the greatest interest - the most frost-resistant and early-growing species. For convenience, we will call it simply actinidia.
In the Far East it is called "raisins", "kishmish", "Amur grapes". It is appropriate to call it the "vine of health". Actinidia fruits are tender, aromatic, juicy, sour-sweet taste. They contain up to 5 times more vitamin C than black currant and 25 times more than lemon. To meet the daily requirement for vitamin C, it is enough to eat 1-2 berries or 10 g of jam. One actinidia plant can provide a year-round vitamin C requirement for a family of 3-4 people.
Actinidia is suitable for all types of processing. At the same time, it is important that a significant amount of vitamin C is retained in the processed products. Wine from actinidia, for example, due to its high content of ascorbic acid (up to 1140 mg per 1 l), can be attributed to medicinal wines. It has a golden yellow color and resembles aged nutmeg brands. Berries are good for pie fillings. Dried berries are similar in quality to dried seedless grapes (raisins). Raw preparations are well preserved in the refrigerator: berries, covered with sugar (1: 2) and rubbed with sugar (1: 1.5-1.7).
For the first time, I.V. Michurin carried out breeding work on the breeding of actinidia varieties. He predicted that actinidia was able to oust grapes and gooseberries from the gardens of Russia. Unfortunately, actinidia has not yet received the proper distribution, remaining a rare culture.
Actinidia is a climbing shrub (liana) of great interest as an ornamental, fruit and medicinal plant.
As a highly decorative plant, actinidia has been cultivated in Russia since the 1850s. Plants differ in variegation - a rather rare phenomenon in the plant world. When blooming, the leaves are bronze, then green, in June part of the leaves are pale pink, over time they are bright crimson, in the fall they turn purple or brown.
Plants of actinidia are dioecious. The flowers are white, with a delicate scent of lily of the valley. Female flowers are located singly, male flowers are collected 2-3 per inflorescence. In female flowers, the petals fall off one by one, the perianth of the male flower falls off entirely. There are also bisexual forms that yield a crop with self-pollination.
The fruit is a multi-seeded berry, oval-elongated, 2-3 cm long. The average weight of the berry is 2.5 g, the color is emerald green, when ripe it turns green even more. The fruits ripen in late August and early September. In appearance they resemble gooseberry berries. Ripe, they quickly fall off and deteriorate. The seeds are very small (60-100 pieces), like strawberries. Harvest per bush 2-10 kg.
The root system of actinidia is densely branched. On soddy-podzolic soil, it lies in a layer 25-30 cm from the surface, develops in a horizontal direction.
In its natural habitats, actinidia is able to withstand frosts up to 43 degrees without damage. Under culture conditions, young plants of 1-3 years of age are very sensitive to temperature drops and require mandatory shelter for the winter.
Plants that have entered the fruiting period are characterized by greater winter hardiness compared to non-fruiting ones. Plants grown in high light conditions are more hardy. In the conditions of the Leningrad Region, the tops of immature shoots can freeze in actinidia.
Actinidia prefers light or medium loamy in texture, sufficiently fertile soils with a good water-air regime, slightly acidic or neutral reaction.
Although actinidia is shade-tolerant, the best results are obtained when it is grown in well-lit, sheltered places, from the south or south-west side of buildings.
On heavy and waterlogged soils, a drainage layer (broken brick, gravel, crushed stone, etc.) 25-30 cm thick is laid on the bottom of a pit or trench (which is better) with a depth of 60-70 cm. The pit is filled with a mixture of equal parts of humus, sand and clay. The distance between the plants is 1.5-2 m. One male is planted on five female plants. The best planting time is spring. In the first 2-3 years after planting, the plants need to be shaded in hot weather.
Plants need vertical support for successful growth and fruiting. It can be a wire trellis, lattice frame, guide cords. Practice has shown the advisability of using soft-wire and rope trellises, which can be lowered to the ground together with plants, covering them for the winter. Actinidia is formed in the form of a fan, evenly distributing the shoots in the plane of support.
In the absence of supports in open places, this climbing plant turns into a low, strongly branching shrub. In such conditions, the bark of its branches is affected by sunburn.
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Pruning actinidia is reduced to removing diseased, broken and thickening shoots. It is better to carry it out after the end of the spring sap flow, in late May-early June, so as not to cause abundant "crying" and drying out of plants. Sections are covered with garden pitch. The main branches are replaced every 2-3 years.
The soil is weeded, loosened, mulched. Fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers, should be applied in limited quantities so as not to cause prolonged growth of shoots. In the spring 30-40 g of ammonium nitrate and 15-20 g of superphosphate and potassium salt are added. After fruiting, add 20-30 g of superphosphate and 15-20 g of potassium salt per square meter.
Actinidia reacts negatively to both soil and atmospheric drought, requires regular and abundant watering. For the winter, it is advisable to mulch the area of the trunk circle with a layer of 8 -10 cm to protect the root system from freezing.
Young plants should be protected from cats, which, attracted by the strong, specific odor emanating from the plants in spring, gnaw at the bark at the base of the stem.
Actinidia can be propagated by green, lignified cuttings and layering. In the latter case, a strong one-year branch during the period of mass shoots regrowth (end of May) is laid on well-loosened soil, pinned at the points of origin of the growing shoots and spud with loose, fertile soil, leaving only the top of the shoots. As the shoots grow, hilling is repeated. Rooted layers are separated after 2-3 years.
The varieties recommended for our zone include: Leningradskaya early, Pavlovskaya, Pobeda, Matovaya, Urozhainaya, VIR-1, September, Leningradskaya late and others with berries weighing up to 5 grams.