Grow Your Own Goji Berries

    • It’s bare root season, which means you can save money on fruit trees and roses by planting them now. A wide selection is now available.
    • Witch hazels bloom in the middle of winter with their interesting and showy, fragrant yellow or red blooms. One might look good in your garden.
    • Asparagus, whose delectable spears are even sweeter when home-grown, are available now for planting. Prepare a fertile bed for these long-lived vegetables.
    • Prune fruit trees, grapes, berries, and ornamental trees this month. Take in a pruning class and sharpen your shears before you start.

Grow Goji Berries!

Long cultivated in China and other parts of Asia, Goji berries are a newcomer to the American health-food scene. Their reputation as an “exotic superfruit” is spurring their growing popularity. They are known to be rich in nutrients and high in antioxidants to protect and strengthen the immune system. Goji berries are even being suggested as a powerful anti-aging food.

“Wolfberry” is the most commonly used English name for the berry whose botanical name is Lycium barbarum, while the name, Goji, is close to the Chinese pronunciation for the word. “Tibetan goji berry” is the name used to market the berries.

Goji berry plants produce small, beautiful white and purple trumpet shaped flowers from June through September. As the summer progresses the flowers mature into bright orange-red Goji berries from August to October, depending on your location and exposure. When ripe, the small, oblong berries are tender and must be picked carefully or shaken from the bush into trays to avoid spoilage. The fruits are preserved by drying them in the sun on open trays, or in the oven, or by using a dehydrator.

When dried, they resemble small, red currants. Their taste is unfamiliar but pleasant and dried fruits can be used in trail mix, smoothies, homemade protein shakes, salads, yogurt, cereals, oatmeal and many other snacks or meals. Fresh berries can be used to make healthful tea and juice. Even the young shoots are edible. Goji berries have long been used in traditional medicine and food in Asia.

Choose a location for your plants that receives full sun. Plants require good drainage and do best in rich soil with plenty of organic matter. The more sun they get the faster they grow and the better the berries will be. But Goji berry plants are tough and can survive in just about any climate and soil condition.

They are a deciduous shrub growing 8-10 feet tall and spreading wider. They have a tendency to vine out and benefit from trellising. Bushes will produce berries their second year, but peak berry production occurs in the 4th or 5th year.

Gojis have been grown in China for thousands of years in a wide range of climates. And they have been naturalized as an ornamental and edible plant in the UK for nearly 300 years. These hardy plants can tolerate low temperatures down to –20 degrees F and highs over 100 degrees F. They are commercially grown in China in alkaline soils, although plants seem to tolerate a wide range of soil pH. They are somewhat drought tolerant once established but summer irrigation will promote rapid growth.

Gojis can be successfully cultivated in all temperate regions of North America. Your success may vary depending on your growing conditions.

Enjoy growing this hardy and nutritious plant!

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