Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance, Gardening, Perennial Plants

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

My homesteading journey has taught me many lessons.  I have gained valuable skills and learned that failing isn’t the end of the world.  I cherish my willingness to fail and try again.  I can’t think of one project that we haven’t improved once the initial concept was realized and quite a few that we scrapped altogether.  In a society that teaches us to fear failure, the sturdy few that can face it head-on have an amazing advantage in an uncertain world.

The hardy kiwi vines are a wonderful example of my failing and trying again.  When I decided to add these exotic fruit vines to our homestead, I had no knowledge of their growth habits except for the little I found in my online research.  My first attempt to just let them grow wild without any training failed spectacularly.  This meant I had to cut the vines back to the ground and start again.  It was disappointing, but I knew they would grow quickly from their sturdy, three year old roots and I could hope for a crop in a couple of years.

My second attempt was also less than a stellar success.  I chose to allow a leader to grow straight up and then tried to force lateral vines to cover the sides of the trellis.  While this seemed to be a logical plan, I didn’t really understand the natural growth pattern of the vines.  Hardy kiwi vines want to grow straight up, not out to the side, so the plant was wasting a lot of energy on tendrils I was just pinching off.  I let it go for two years, but decided last fall that I was wasting a lot of time and effort trying to force the vines to do something they just didn’t want to do.  Once again, I cut the vines back, not to the ground, but to the first wire of the trellis.  I’ll allow two laterals to grow from this main stem, one on each side, and then let them grow straight up from there.

While I’m not exactly back to square one, the trellis is once again bare and I can’t help but sigh a little.  It’s been 5 years since I planted these vines and I was hoping to harvest fruit before now.  Yet, battered but not broken, I press on.  The vines are alive and healthy.  Now it’s just a matter of waiting.

Hopefully the third time’s the charm.

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