What are Goji Berries?

What are Goji Berries l The superfood Goji or Wolf berry is easy to grow and use l Homestead Lady (.com)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. 

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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. 

The Gardening Notebook

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!

Quick NOTE

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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.

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8 thoughts on “What are Goji Berries?

  1. I found your post at the HomeAcre Hop. I can’t WAIT to grow goji berries, and I was glad to hear that they will grow easily in my southern climate. Thanks for the great read! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You betcha! When you do get around to them and if you think about it, come back to this post and let me know how they perform in your area. I’ll be happy to update the post with info from – what state are you in? I lived in NC for six years and miss, miss, miss it!

  2. Great post, nice to know I can grow them here in Louisiana. Bummer I would have to wait three years, but they say good things come to those who wait. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist.

    1. Eh, three years is an estimate. If you buy nursery plants that are already around a year old then you should have some berries the next growing season, increasing in amount as the plant ages. My three year old plants are loaded down with so many I can’t keep on top of them all.

  3. I planted 9 goji berry plants last summer. I’m waiting for the first harvest. Do you know how long I’ll need to wait. It took them a long time, it seemed to get established. When I first transplanted them we lost several leaves.

    I was actually surprised how close to the ground they wanted to be.

    1. How old were they when they went into the ground, Chris? Mine were year old plants that took two years to fruit. They sort of fruited when they were two but we had a crazy hot summer that year and it knocked the wind out of them. They spend the first year or so getting their roots established. And plotting how to take over the world. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Wait, that’s elderberries.

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