Kiwi flowering

My kiwi vines have small buds for the first time (they're about 4 years old now).
They haven't actually flowered yet, and I'm interested in what they'll look like.
My question: assuming that these buds mean I'll be getting fruit this year, how do you tell when a kiwi is ripe?
Mark
P.S. The elephant garlic is growing like a charm, the snow peas are climbing the trellis, the greens are getting big (endive, spinach, romaine lettuce), the carrots have germinated, and the herbs are also coming in.
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snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net writes:

Mine are hardy kiwi which are grape-size so will base my comments on my own experience. They won't be ripe until fall and will be soft when fully ripe. You can eat them earlier but will miss the truly luscious flavor of them.
Enjoy. Next year you will have considerably more.
Fortunately, I have a male, female and a self-pollinator. You see, the male is budding now but no one else is so he will probably be fully in bloom too early. Bummer. OTH, the self-pollinator will help pollinate the female.
These are special plants, these kiwis. :-)
Glenna
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I have 8 kiwis grown from seeds but I don't know where to plant them. So far my idea is to plant them on cement next to the garage and surround them with dry leaves. Is it true that they can grow on walls? Where have you planted them?
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The first year, I had them growing along a picket fence, but it was in a too-shady part of the yard. I dug them up the next year and planted them along the chain link fence in the back of the yard. They have actually grown so much that I'm going to make a pergola for them to grow over for next year. Of course, I'll have to cut the biggest portion of the vines out of the chain link fence, but if I don't do that, they'll end up pulling down the fence in another year or two.
As far as growing up walls like ivy, I don't think so. Ivy has those little hairy things along the stem, and kiwi vines are smooth skinned.
Mark
BTW: I have 2 females and a male, and these are the cold-hardy types.
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