Go, Go Goji
Goji berries also known as Wolf Berry (Lycium barbarum) are considered to be the ‘super fruit’ or ‘miracle berry’ as they are rich in antioxidants, carotenoids, lutein, iron, fibre, and boost the immune system. Members of the Boxthorn family, they originate from Asia. The Chinese have been using Goji for many years in their traditional medicine.
The Goji berry plant is hardy enough to be grown in Prince George as it is able to withstand temperatures of -40 Celsius.
It can take a little time to get established but once it is established it is easy to grow, as it is rarely bothered by disease or pests, including rabbits and deer.
The plant is tolerant of different soil types, but the soil must be well-drained as the plant does not like having its roots sitting in water. Although tolerant of different soil types it produces best when in a good quality, well drained soil. There is some drought tolerance once it has been established, but again does better when watered regularly. Plant it in full sun and for added fruit, plant it against a sunny wall.
Pruning is done in the spring, before it breaks into leaf. Pruning the bush will keep it shorter and thicker and increase flower and berry production.
We will be bringing in the ‘Firecracker’ Goji plant, variety known for its bright red-orange berries, that appear in late summer and continue until a frost.
The berries are sweet and juicy and can be eaten fresh, dried (like raisins), or frozen. The berries get sweeter the longer they are left on the bush and can be gently shaken off the bush. It is self pollinating, and it begins to flower in its second year and by the fourth or fifth year it reaches maximum fruit production. The white /purple flowers appear in early through to mid summer.
The bush itself has a mounding growth habit growing upright with arching, vine like branches and can grow 1.5-2 meters tall and wide. It is an attractive, deciduous, thornless shrub with gray/green foliage.
Look for the Goji berry plants this spring, in the nursery along with the other edible fruit berry plants such as Hascap, Blueberries, Saskatoons, Raspberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Strawberries, and Blackberries.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road (closed for season)