Normally gourmet garlic seed is the last thing planted in my garden each fall, but this year a new plant filled that role in my backyard… Goji Berry Plants!
New Fruit Variety for the Home Garden
You may already be familiar with Goji Berries if you keep up with the latest and greatest in the world of nutritional supplements. Goji Berries have been receiving a lot of press recently for the reported health benefits and high levels of antioxidants that have been linked to this exotic fruit from Tibet.
Despite its uncommon roots and foreign background, I became acquainted with the Goji Berry a couple of years ago and soon afterward discovered that the plant can be cultivated here in the U.S. So of course my interest in ornamental and unusual edible fruits led me to try growing Goji Berry plants in my own backyard garden.
The main attraction, in addition to their uniqueness was the fact that the berries appear to be an extremely care-free plant to grow. Add to that their ability to produce huge harvests of nutritious and delicious fruit and it sounds like the perfect fruit for the home gardener.
While Goji Berry plants have rather exotic origins, they are not tropical and can survive the winter even in cold climate regions. Because this fruit is relatively new to growers in the U.S., there’s not much concrete information regarding their performance in various parts of the country, however Goji Berries appear to be extremely adaptable as well as hardy.
Goji Berry Growth Habits and Appearance
To top off the other favorable characteristics for including Goji Berries in the backyard garden, the plants are also ornamental, producing attractive purple and white tropical looking flowers that are followed by bright red, tear-drop shaped berries.
Initially I thought that Goji was a vining type of plant that required support, but it turns out that the growth habit is more similar to a shrub than a vine. The plant is reported to grow to heights of twelve feet tall and as wide as eight feet, but it can be pruned and trained to smaller dimensions, or even raised as an indoor house plant.
If I sound unsure about this ornamental edible plant it’s only because that is the case. This is a new one for me and my first attempt at growing this fruit. If you have more experience growing Goji Berries and would like to share a few of your own tips feel free to send me an e-mail or leave a response in the comment section below.
Obtaining Goji Berry Plants and Seeds
Once I decided to try my hand at growing Goji Berries I immediately ran into a problem in locating and obtaining seeds or plants to start this uncommon fruit. The one company that I stumbled upon that offered plants for sale only sold and shipped them during the winter months, and they were completely sold out at the time.
It was a little puzzling to me why they would sell and ship outdoor plants to northern gardeners during the midst of the harsh winter season. Well it turns out that they ship dormant plants for fall or winter planting. I went on their mailing list and was finally able to order a couple of Goji Berry plants this past December.
I purchased my Goji plants from Timpanogos Nursery. They sell dormant plants for fall planting, and now also sell seed kits and potted Goji Berries for planting in the springtime. If you search the Internet you may find a couple of additional sources for the plants or Goji Berry seeds.
Growing Fall Planted Goji Berries
When I placed my order this fall I did have some reservations over what the weather would be like by the time that the Goji Berry plants arrived. Thoughts of cutting through frozen soil in below freezing weather to plant my Goji Berries were not comforting at all. Fortunately when the plants arrived the weather was mild and perfect for planting.
The planting process was pretty routine, no special treatment was required and Timpanogos supplied a very detailed cultivation manual that described every aspect of growing Goji Berries including planting, pruning techniques, harvesting, and even recipes for using the freshly picked berries. The seed kits also include thorough instructions and a DVD outlining the germination and care of the seedlings.
If you’re interested in growing your own Goji Berry plants you may want to opt for the spring delivered plants at this point, or you can try one of the Goji Berry seed growing kits. I’ll keep you posted on this end as to how my Goji Berry plants survive the winter and what they look like next spring.
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