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Goji berries are also commonly known as wolfberries. More officially, they are recognized as both Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense, different boxthorn species. These come from the nightshade family (the same as tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. They are native to East Asia, where they’ve been appreciated as exceptionally healthy for centuries.
In Western countries in recent years, these unique “berries” have received a lot of acclaim as a superfood. They are full of good antioxidants, vitamins (A and C, specifically), and minerals. They also contain 19 amino acids, including the eight essential ones. Goji berries are claimed to help with conditions ranging from fibromyalgia to asthma to hair loss, and they are anti-inflammatory, which helps with arthritis and joint problems.
Goji berries are versatile in the kitchen and flavorful additions to all sorts of meals. Recipes with goji berries include cakes, cookies, oatmeal, trail mix, granola, raw food energy balls, and any dessert imaginable. In other words, it would be wonderful to have your abundant source of goji berries growing at home, especially because they are so pricey from the supermarket.
Goji Berry Plant Overview
The species of goji berry plants can grow over 10 feet tall and about half as wide if left to their own devices. However, growers usually elect to prune the plants to remain shorter (and less tangled) to increase production and make harvesting easier.
Goji berries are hardy, perennial plants. They tolerate temperatures well below freezing and are suitable for growing anywhere warmer than USDA Zone 4, including places like Anchorage, Minnesota, and Portland (Maine, not Oregon). The plants are drought-tolerant, but to produce a lot of fruit, they need a lot of sun.
Planting Goji Berries
Goji berry plants can be grown in either a container or in the ground. Growing them in containers will shorten their lifespan to only a few years. That’s right, years.
When putting them in containers, it’s important to eventually get to a container of 10-gallons or more, incrementally building up the root system by using slightly larger containers. They should be planted in a potting mix, not soil from the garden, to provide plenty of fertility, aeration, moisture retention, and good drainage. Remember, they’ll need to be somewhere sunny.
When planting goji berry plants in the ground, they should be put in a sunny spot with good drainage. A pH balance around neutral or only slightly alkaline or acidic is best. Conditioning the soil will take a bit of wood ash or lime might help to raise pH levels. Adding a good, four-inch layer of carbon-rich mulch, such as wood chips or leaves, will help with improving the soil long-term.
Source: Plant Abundance/Youtube
Growing Tips for Goji Plants
We’ve already covered how important it is for goji berries to get plenty of sun, but let’s stress that one more time: No less than six hours a day. While most plants like well-draining soil, this is particularly true for goji, which will suffer from root rot if it sits in too much moisture. If the soil isn’t suitable, dig a sizeable hole and fill it with a good compost mix. Then, as with any plant, a good layer of mulch makes a massive difference.
There are a few other things to be aware of:
- Goji berry plants spread via runners, much like blackberry and raspberry brambles. They can take over a garden area. They are easy enough to control when attended to; however, it might be worth keeping in mind if they are planted near trees or shrubs whose root systems could be disturbed when yanking up errant goji sprouts.
- With goji, it’s a good idea to prune them. For one, they get too tall to harvest well, and they also tend to crowd themselves. To keep them productive, it helps to clean up too much growth at the thin lateral branches, top them to an appropriate height, and remove any deadwood.
- Goji stems tend to be quite spindly. It’s a good idea to use a trellis to keep them upright. Securing the plants to the trellises with a bit of twine will prevent them from slumping over in an undesirable direction.
Source: Homesteading on the Hill/Youtube
Harvesting Your Goji Berries
Goji berries take a couple of years to start producing, but they provide a considerable harvest when they do. They grow in clumps along the main stem and are easy to pull free. They can be eaten fresh, but they are great for drying. Separate harvests can be kept in a cardboard box for the entire growing season, and they will dehydrate well for long-term storage.
Recipies with goji berries:
- Skillet Rock Cakes With Goji Berries [Vegan]
- Adzuki Fudge Brownies With Goji Berries [Vegan]
- Raw Chocolate Bark With Tangerine and Goji Berries [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- Quinoa Salad with Figs, Purslane, and Goji Berries [Vegan]
- Seeds and Goji Berry Granola [Vegan]
- If You’ve Never Tried Goji Berries, Start With These 15 Yummy Recipes
- 5 Reasons You Should Eat Goji Berries Every Day
- Spotlight on Goji Berries: Health Benefits, Tips, and Recipes
- Food Face-Off: Goji Berries vs. Açaí Berries (The Berry Wars)
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