I am probably giving away my advanced age by choosing that line for a title. If I hadn’t yet, when I reveal it’s from the Disney movie, Mary Poppins, I most certainly shall. “Well begun is half done” is a very powerful idea, one than I, for one, could definitely give more consideration to BEFORE I begin a project. After all, poorly begun is often a ‘do over’. It most certainly was for my poor hardy kiwi vines, and the process nearly killed one of them.
I admit to being rather lazy the first year I planted my kiwi vines. I sort of just let them sprout any old way, with no rhyme or reason. After two years of growth, it became obvious that this was not only unsightly, but was going to make it very difficult to keep them pruned for proper production. I had most definitely not begun well.
Last fall, after the last leaf fell, I made the decision to cut the vines all the way back almost to the ground. It was hard to see two years growth disappear in one fell swoop, and know that it would be at least two more years before I got any fruit, but it had to be done. My naked trellis reproached me all winter.
The mature roots were eager to send up shoots in the spring, but a late frost nipped them badly. I found I had to check them every couple of days to remove all the sprouts but the one I’d chosen to be the lead stem. The leader climbed rapidly up the trellis only to have it’s end ruthlessly nipped away at the top to force it to create side shoots. During the height of the growing season, I had to go out for a few minutes every day to keep the vine twining in the direction I wanted it to go, as they have a tendency to grow straight up toward the light. I also pulled off all side shoots. These shoots would have been next year’s fruit, but I won’t allow that until the vine has covered the trellis.
The plant closest to the house had a very rough time. It was the one most out of shape and most determined to produce multiple shoots. It also gets the most shade. To make matters worse, something kept eating the growing end off the shoot and stripping the leaves. I never saw what was eating it. In desperation, I finally cut the weak, sickly thing all the way back and pulled all the mulch away from it so the critters couldn’t hide in it. It took a long time to produce that last shoot, but it finally rallied and sprang toward the light with determination. It reached the top of the fence and sent out one short side shoot.
I now have a good beginning, but my work is not done. I’ll have to do the same thing next year, and since I won’t allow the male to bloom until it’s in the shape I want, even if the far plant does bloom, there will be no fruit. I am truly at the beginning.