Growing goji berries (also known as wolfberries) is a great option for introducing the “superfood” fruits into your garden. Growing naturally in China and the Tibetan Himalayas, these red berries are packed with the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.
Once established, goji berries don’t need too much attention and are suitable for even the most inexperienced gardener.
Before you continue reading below, check out the following overview pages if you haven't done so already. They contain important general instructions that apply to most types of fruit trees...
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Goji berry plants are self pollinating so you won’t need to plant more than one.
Find a position in full sun, dig the ground over and add well-rotted organic compost a few weeks before planting. But don’t try and grow potatoes or tomatoes near your goji berries. This is because they are all part of the Solanaceae family and diseases such as blight are more likely to spread between them.
It’s best to buy a small shrub plant than attempt to grow from seed as these plants may not always fruit. Because of this you can plant your goji berry shrub at any time during the year as long as the ground isn’t frozen or flooded.
Dig a hole so that you can plant the shrub level with the soil. Firm the plant in with your heel after planting.
Add an additional mulch of 3 inches (7 cm) of well-rotted organic compost after planting. This will help the plant retain its moisture during the first few months of growth for the new plant. Feed with an organic seaweed liquid fertilizer as the flower buds appear.
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You’ll need to keep your goji shrub well-watered during its first year of growth. After this they will be drought-tolerant and need very little attention.
Your goji berries will develop on new growth which can be encouraged by pruning out any old or diseased stems each spring.
For bushier growth that will develop more berries, pinch out all the bush's branches in the spring. You can either pinch the soft growth between your fingers or use clean, sharp clippers or secateurs. Leaving your goji berry bush to grow long, weaker branches will result in less fruit.
You can pick goji berries from mid-summer until late fall. Berries will be a deeper red as they ripen and their skins will look quite shiny. Ripe berries will come away very easily in your hand as you touch them.
Pick berries by hand, discarding any that are misshapen or bruised. Use a small pail for collecting the good ones. Don’t put more than two quarts (1.9 liters) into the same pail to avoid crushing them.
Drying goji berries is a great way to store berries that aren’t eaten fresh. You can add these to cereals or salads and make them into tea.
To dry them…
Berries stored in this was can last up to a year.
Birds will try and eat your berries. After flowering you can cover the shrub with horticultural netting as the fruit forms to keep birds from stealing all your crops.
Other than attracting birds and other animals, goji berries are very pest- and disease-resistant. This makes them a very low maintenance plant. As mentioned previously, do not to plant them near potatoes or tomatoes as this may result in blight-type diseases.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Goji Berries. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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