From time to time, we hear about Super-foods.
A must-grow for the gardeners!
That are rich in anti-oxidants!
Everyone falls over each other to get their hands on.
And in few years, nobody remembers them.
Goji berry was a star once, with claims of medicinal and nutrional values.
Then others took on the mantle.
I guess, Kale.
Fad or not, Goji berry is worth to give a try.
It gives you edible fruits.
For thousands of years, people ate and nobody died.
(In that claim, be aware that there are reports of allergies with other medicines. So get professional advice before consuming, specially if you are taking other medicines.)
They are really packed with nutrients that help your immune system.
They are hardy all the way to zone 2.
Above all, they are easy to grow.
Goji berry , Lycium Barbarum, has so many different names.
Tibetan Goji, Himalayan Goji, Wolfberry among other names. For some reason, it has a name Duke of Argyll’s tea plant.
Goji berries are slightly thorny deciduous woody shrub that is related to Nightshade family like Tomato.
Propagation of Goji Berry
You can grow them from seeds. Buy the seeds or get from the fruits.
Ideal temperature for germination is 18-20ºC.
Germination takes 2 days to 2 weeks.
Or replant the suckers. It gives plenty.
Or layer them. Bury the branches in the soil, or air-layering.
Or root the softwood cuttings in summer or hardwood cuttings in winter.
Forget all these and buy from garden centers, if you can find!
Plant them in free-draining soil, enriched with compost and manure.
In full sun to get plenty of harvest. They don’t mind some shade.
Once they are established, they go on and on.
Until then, give some shelter in winter for protection, in the first year for seedlings.
I had my first one sitting there for few years, without any growth. Then it died.
My second one is vigorous.
Growing Goji Berries
Best to plant against the fence or wall. Train them along them.
They take up a lot of space. They can grow to 8 ft in height and width.
So give them enough space. Like 6 ft intervals.
You can plant them in pots as well. With drainage holes and nutrient-rich soil mix.
Upgrade to bigger pots and more manure as the plants grow.
Harvesting Goji Berries
They will start giving berries from second year.
In 3-5 years, they reach their full potential.
Berries are elongated, 1-2 cm long, red-yellow in color and slightly sour in flavour.
They can be eaten fresh, as snack, made into juice and wine.
Harvest the ripe and soft ones only. Fruits turn black when bruised. So handle them gently.
You will get them from late summer to frost.
Pruning Goji Berries
Prune them to control the shape and give them enough sunlight and air. But make sure to wear gloves to protect against the spine.
Early spring is the best time to prune. Or after the frost.
And use sharp pruners.
Flowers are formed in the previous year’s growth. So prune them to encourage growth.
Remove dead canes and other unwanted branches, to encourage new branch growth.
Don’t overdo it, it will pay you back with less harvest.
Regardless of the hype, they are good for your health.
Grow them and have fun having a conversation-starter!