Goji berries, also known as wolf berries, or Lycium Barbarum, are wonderfully healthful little buggers and great performers in your edible garden. They’ll happily grow in zones 4-9 and propagate themselves all over your yard, if you’ll let them; they will require pruning, if you don’t. We planted two last year and we’re rolling in plants and berries. Goji berries are so lovely with their lilac colored blooms in spring and their bright red berries in the summer.
To learn more about some simple, medicinal plants to grow, be sure to check out our ebook, Herbs in the Bathtub. You can learn to grow herbs wherever you are, in whatever space you have.
How well do Gojis Grow?
I purchased mine from Raintree Nursery but there are online vendors all over the place and your local nursery may even carry them come spring (that’s when you’ll want to plant them unless you live in a very warm climate and can plant all year). They usually come into fruit in the second or third year and the berries have a sweet/sour combination flavor, getting sweeter and bigger as they age.
The Chinese immigrants who helped build the railroad brought the berries with them, dried, in their pockets. As they moved toward Promontory, Utah where the Golden Spike was driven they discarded many things, including old berries. Low and behold, the seeds sprouted and to this day Goji berries are something that do wonderfully well in Utah, but they’ll even grow in the Southern states where it’s more humid.
Are Goji berries good for you?
Because of the presence of carotenoids, a smattering of vitamins and minerals, as well as lycopene and other antioxidants, Goji berries are good for you eyes, heart, immune system and even your good humor, not to mention your anti-aging regimen. To learn more, go here to a whole site dedicated to the health benefits of Goji berries. To capitalize on all that year round, harvest them often throughout the season and dry them for future teas and smoothies. And don’t forget your chickies and your goat dears, either–the awesome Goji berry is just as good for them as they are for you!
We even use them in our frozen bird feeder for birds in winter.
And in our winter Vitamin C tea – so sweet!
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More on the Goji Superfood
During the growing season you can add these fresh to smoothies, fruit salads and cobblers. The taste isn’t exactly sweet–rather, it’s sweet at first, and then has a funny aftertaste. However, the flavors blend well with other berries and a bit of sweetener like raw honey.
The only real drawback to Goji berries is that they’re hard to pick, being small and a bit smushy. A berry rake like this one will make harvesting soooooo much easier (in both child and adult size):
The tray isn’t necessary, just handy – though, sometimes the smallest berries will fall through the cracks. These are technically made for lingonberries but they’re certainly more efficient than meticulously picking each, individual berry!
If you’ve never tried a Goji berry in your garden or kitchen, perhaps this is the year! If you do plant some, let me know how they do for you.