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About Broken Shovel Kiwi Farm

Broken Shovel Kiwi Farm is not the result of any rational planning, a special interest in farming or gardening, or even a prior awareness of hardy kiwis, but rather the outcome of a poor parking experience.


It began in 2010 when I was in Poulsbo and had just pulled into a grocery store parking lot to stretch my legs and get some food when a large Lincoln Continental pulled up beside me and parked so close that I was unable to open my door.  Crawling out the passenger door, I was considering the need to give the driver a dirty look when I saw that the driver was a small, elderly lady who was beginning to unload boxes of some type of fruit I had never seen before. Now more curious than upset, I asked about this strange fruit.  She called it Chinese gooseberries, and said she had started growing them because they were especially nutritious and one of the few healthy things that her husband, who had health problems, would eat.  Only a year later did I look up information on these "Chinese gooseberries," and discovered that they are more commonly known as hardy kiwis and that her description of them as being an especially nutritious fruit was fully justified.

   Soon after reading about hardy kiwis I found myself going by a nursery on Bainbridge Island and decided to see if they sold hardy kiwi plants and how much they cost.  Discovering that they still had a number of hardy kiwi plants and that the nursery was having an end of season half-price sale, I purchased all of them.  Having discovered how affordable the plants could be, and with a half acre yard in Burien available for planting, I then stopped at more nurseries in the following months, with the result that 59 hardy kiwis were soon planted in the yard.

    After five years and lots of mistakes (especially in not knowing the crucial importance of pruning the plants during their early growth, or the low level of nitrogen in the Burien soil), I realized I was clearly "in over my head" with this kiwi project . . .so why stop now?  Against everybody's better judgment, my own included, we bought 5 acres of pasture land in Mossyrock, Washington in early 2016 with the intent of me growing more hardy kiwis.  Initially this was to involve a total of thirty-six Anna hardy kiwis, but as time went on more hardy kiwis mysteriously appeared, with the end result being 140 hardy kiwi plants are now growing on the Mossyrock property (5 varieties: Ken's Red, Early Cordifilios, Michigan State, 74/49, and Anna's - though most of the supposedly Anna's have now been discovered as having been mislabeled and are actually the Michigan State variety).

     As of this writing in this 2023 the hardy kiwis in Mossyrock are in their first year of producing a marketable amount of fruit, while the kiwi plants in Burien will continue, hopefully, to produce several hundred pounds for sale.  This means the new challenge will be figuring out how to effectively harvest this year's crop while maintaining the policy of picking and selling the berries only when vine ripened and ready to eat.  Looking back, my initial motto for starting to grow hardy kiwis had been "don't let your ignorance stand in the way of your enthusiasm," a motto that still sounds appropriate even if the amount of ignorance involved was greatly underestimated (and ongoing!).



Planting the first hardy kiwis.  Old, and very heavy, cement mixer found under blackberry bushes eventually removed.

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