Growing Goji Berries In Your Home
Instead of buying goji juice and goji berries, why not grow your own goji berries (and make your own juice if so inclined)? With very limited time and resources needed to get your own fresh, nutrient-dense berries at a fraction of the cost, this is a fine alternative for those of us who are open to trying it.
What You Need to Grow Goji Berries
Seeds (or plants if you have a source)
Growing area (outdoors and/or in pots) with at least 6 hours of full sun (at least 8 is preferable)
Organically rich, well drained soil
Time (2-3 years before bearing)
You can get seeds directly out of goji berries, but you can’t be sure what variety you are getting necessarily and if the berries are sun dried this may cause the seeds not to germinate properly.
Where to Grow (To Pot or Not)
If you live in USDA growing zone 5 or warmer (doesn’t get colder than -15 F (-26 C)) you can grow the plants outdoor (although you might experiment in zone 4 in a very sunny and sheltered area). If you live in a colder area, skip to Growing Goji Berries in Pots below. You’ll need to prepare a place to plant them outside, which isn’t really that hard.
Wherever there is free space, whether it be in your front yard (goji plants are quite beautiful and have wonderful purple flowers in the spring) or elsewhere. There are a few considerations for location. First, make sure you choose an area that has access to a lot of sun (south facing with no trees, buildings, etc. blocking the sun).
Also, try to choose a site that is chemical free (don’t use pesticides on the lawn where you are going to plant them or anywhere near them if possible). Keep your plants as far away from the road as possible as well, since pollution andGrowing Goji Berriesdust from the road will contaminate them.
If you are going to make a little patch to grow goji berries on your lawn, you may choose to just remove an area of grass (make a nice shape so your new goji garden looks nice). Make sure the soil is worked up and fork it to lessen the compaction, and if necessary, add some soil to the surface that is seed free. Alternatively, you can smother most of the grass for less work (instructions for this are in my growing guide newsletter which you can sign up for above or at the end of this page).
Plant the seeds after the last frost of the year, about half an inch down in the soil. Very lightly mulch around the seeds, making sure not to cover them (put the mulch where you didn’t put the seeds). Keep the soil consistently moist until germination, and then decrease watering, allowing the soil to get mostly dry before watering again. Water deeply to make sure the roots don’t stay close to the surface. Once they germinate, mulch at least 3 inches deep with wood chips or leaves.
Growing Goji Berries in Pots
If growing in pots, you can save money by getting creative here. If you can get access to a wooden barrel (half barrels are sold at some garden centers or hardware stores), cutting it in half would give you two nice, large, decorative pots that can be used to grow a few goji plants in. If you have the money, you can always just buy a few large pots too – at least 2 feet wide is best, if not larger (the bigger the better). You’ll probably need a few of them to get a decent amount of berries growing.
You’ll basically just need regular potting soil and some organic matter such as manure (a small amount, on top for slow release fertilizer).
If growing in pots, you’ll also have to change out some of your soil every year or so, as the goji berry plants “eat” the existing nutrients. Luckily, plants get almost all of the matter that they produce their growth and fruit from directly from the air and sunlight, so you won’t need to add organic matter very often. If growing outside, make sure to work some manure, compost, vermiculite or other organic matter into the soil at least once every year or so.
The best time to water in order to avoid fungal disease is in the early morning. If the plants are ever looking droopy, this means they need more water.
If your plants are inside, make sure they have access to at least 8 hours of direct sun. The more sun they get during the course of the day, the more berries they will produce and the more nutritious those berries will be.
If you can’t give them enough sun inside, you might consider putting a floresenct, full spectrum light over them for a few hours a day (perhaps turning the lights on when you wake up and turning them off when you go to bed). It is actually better to leave the light on 24/7 until the plants get a little bigger.
Now all you need to do is sit back and watch your goji berries grow. It will take a couple of years to get good sized goji plants that produce a nice amount of berries, but at least when that time comes, you won’t be dependent on anyone.
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