There are a number of names for goji berries, sometimes known as Lycium chinense or Lycium bararum. They are also known as Chinese matrimony berries and wolfberries in certain circles. These bushes will continue to produce fruit throughout the whole summer and into the autumn, right up until the first frost hits your region. The length of time it takes until you get your first harvest can vary depending on how you began the plant and where it is growing in your yard. Additionally, gathering goji berries manually may be a time-consuming process. Plant hardiness zones 3 through 10 are suitable for growing Lycium bararum, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA zones 6 through 9 are ideal for growing lycium chinese.
Starting Goji in Containers
Even while you won’t get a complete harvest from bare-root plants growing in pots until at least the second year, you should still be able to pick at least some fruits from the plants in the first year. Growers that specialise in their craft, like those at Phoenix Tears Nursery, highly advise beginning with established plants rather than seeds. It will take more time until you get your first crop if you plant from seeds instead of ordering bare-root plants in your region since seeds need more time to develop into mature plants. The plants need at least three years of growth after being started from seeds in a container before they can begin producing fruit in the fourth year of their existence. Even if the seeds are dried up and many years old, they should still be able to germinate provided they came from berries that you bought.
Cultivating Goji in Containers
The quickest method for harvesting goji berries is to plant them in containers using bare-root stock. After planting the berries in a container for the first time, you should wait until the second year to get a complete harvest. You will need to trim the plant on a regular basis when it is dormant in the winter in order to preserve its form while it is contained inside the container. Due to the fact that goji berries only appear on new growth, pruning your container-grown goji berries will result in a greater harvest.
If the goji berry you’re growing in a container stops growing despite your best efforts to prune it, you’ll need to transplant it in a bigger container. The growth of the shrub will halt once it gets rootbound, and it won’t begin again until the roots are given space to spread out in a more open environment.
Growing Goji In the Ground
Growing a goji berry plant in the ground gives the roots plenty of freedom to spread out, but you should still put it in a location that has enough of room for it to expand into the surrounding environment. The plants, when allowed to develop in their natural manner, will spread out and grow along the ground, consuming a significant amount of space. The majority of cultivators support the plants with stakes so that they expand in a vertical direction instead. Plants that are cared after in this manner may reach heights of up to 13 feet and widths of up to 4 feet.
If you have more than one plant in your garden, you should make sure there is at least one metre (three feet) of space between each of them. A visually pleasing hedge or border may be created by planting many together. If you put your goji berries in the ground, you won’t be able to harvest them in any significant manner until the third year, even though you will see at least a few berries each summer for the first couple of years after planting them.
Harvesting Goji Berries
The harvest of goji berries begins in the early part of the summer, when the exquisitely lovely purple blooms have been replaced by full, ripe, red berries, and it continues until the first frost frost. After that frost, when the leaves start dropping, you may collect the leaves to make tea or to use as a delightfully herbal spice in soups and sauces. You can do any of these things after the leaves have fallen. Even though the gathering season might run for months, you may have trouble keeping enough for your personal use since goji berries are appealing to birds, who can eat an entire bush’s supply in a matter of hours. The maturing goji berries may be protected from birds by using bird netting draped over the goji berry plant.
The harvesting of goji berries must be done by hand, which is a procedure that takes a lot of time due to the plants’ aggressive thorniness (according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, they are also known as “Chinese desert thorn”). Goji berries are known for their high levels of antioxidants. You may select them with your bare hands if you are cautious, but this will make the process much slower for you. Alternatively, you can choose to use gloves to protect your hands while you are picking. The berries, which are often referred to as an antioxidant “superfood,” have a revivingly acidic flavour, although they are not too sour if they are picked when they are completely matured. The berries may be eaten fresh shortly after they have been harvested, or they can be dried or frozen for longer-term storage options.