goji It is a plant that until a few years ago was completely unknown in our country. Lately, it has gained a well-deserved reputation as a superfood: the berries it produces are incredibly healthy and have many beneficial properties.
What is interesting is that this shrub of Asian origin easily adapts to our environments and not at all difficult to grow in Italy .
So let’s describe botanical characteristics and cultivation techniques of goji , a crop that lends itself to professional agricultural production, can find its place alone or in a small fruit crop, alongside the most common (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and gooseberry), but also amateur. One can also try to grow goji in the garden without too much difficulty. The plant is quite adaptable and hardy, does not require as much attention as the better-known species, and has good resistance to insects and disease, making it well suited to organic cultivation.
The goji plant (Lycium barbarum or Chinese lycium)
choice of place
plants and supports
How to grow goji berries
Insects and other pests
Size of shrubs
Growing goji in a pot
Harvesting and properties of berries
Varieties of Goji
The goji plant ( Lycium Barbarian Where chinese lycium )
Speaking of goji, we should actually be referring to two different plants: the most famous Lycium Barbarian and his parent chinese lycium .
Both goji species are perennial shrubs belonging to the nightshade family. and are therefore related to tomato, potato, eggplant and pepper.
Both produce numerous ellipsoidal, bright orange-red fruits, which have always been highly valued in the Orient for food and medicinal uses. The flowers of these plants are small, purple in color and appear in summer between June and September.
Between the two species, Lycium barbarum it has recently spread to the world market as a panacea for health. chinese lycium was less fortunate, not least because its berries have a harder taste, even though they are cheaper. Lycium Barbarian It has a height of up to 3 meters, while chinese lycium maintains more limited growth.
Given that Lycium Barbarian is considered the common goji We will now refer to this species.
Goji is a perennial species, so you can decide to put a few plants in the garden, as an accompaniment to the orchard, or even to make it a professional plant if you want to grow a profitable crop.
To start it is better to buy the seedlings already formed , because from seed it is slower to go into production. For organic farms, there are also certified seedling nurseries to start production from organic propagating material.
To approach the cultivation of goji, it is important to keep in mind that the size of the plant tends to be climbing and which requires manipulation with tutoring systems such as trellises or netting or a single stake for a single specimen.
Goji plants are easy to grow and very adaptable, both in terms of climate and soil, so choosing a place to plant this species of fruit is not difficult.
Weather . Goji plants adapt quite easily to our environments, resisting both the cold of winter and the heat of summer. Undoubtedly, however, the ideal climate is temperate, so we can grow it in most of our territories. It is advisable to give goji a sunny position .
Ground . Goji has no particular soil requirements, and is rather adaptable pH, which can be acidic, neutral or alkaline. However, the ideal is to avoid water stagnation, favoring good drainage of excess water, so if the soil is very clayey, it is recommended to prepare the prose slightly raised .
The right time for transplanting is autumn or early spring. once danger of frost has passed.
for each plant a large hole is dug , which is added to the soil of the soil amendment as fertilizer or manure, in abundance and in both cases well matured. In general, purchased plants have a clod of soil, and if they are adults, they already produce from the second year after planting.
Six implants and brackets
For extensive cultivation, it is suitable handle goji in rows , which consists of mounting a system of stakes and wires. Stakes should be about 2 meters apart, while horizontal wires should be 3 meters apart so that plants can be tied down as they grow: one wire about 60 cm from the ground, one at 120 and another at 180 The plants in this case are grown as a single stem, while if you have a single plant it can also be grown as a small tree using a single pole as support.
Distances between floors . Between individual plants along the row, the ideal distance is 1-1.5 meters, while between rows it is good to leave even 2.5 meters. Shorter distances can have negative effects in terms of shading and poor ventilation.
How to grow goji berries
Goji is a simple plant to grow, let’s see what tips are useful for good management of this shrub in organic farming.
Bees and bumblebees are instrumental in goji pollination, so it stands to reason that broad-spectrum insecticides should not be used routinely in the environment, only long-lasting, selective pest control products that are under control, and only when there is a real need. For promote the presence of pollinators It is also always recommended to plant lavender and pretty annual flowers in the environment, and in general to take care of biodiversity.
Young goji plants should always be checked and watered regularly during dry spells for the first few years after planting, ideally using the drip method. which distributes the water without excess and gradually. Over time, irrigation can be reduced, but always depending on the climate and type of soil, always intervening in dry periods without stressing the plants.
In addition to the initial distribution of the soil amendment, which takes place at the time of planting the seedlings, every year in the spring it is useful to spread granulated manure on the ground, to which other fertilizers such as rock flour, ash, natural potassium and magnesium sulphate are added, or even self-produced macerated liquids, such as l nettle or horsetail.
The mulch around the plants helps reduce irrigation interventions and above all avoid the birth of weeds throughout the environment, an aspect of fundamental importance. The most common natural materials used for mulch are straw, hay, leaves and dead grass, but in some cases sheep’s wool, jute or cardboard are also used. On the other hand, there are the black webs, practical especially for large crops because they spread quickly.
The goji plant is quite hardy, does not undergo particular pathogenic attacks but it is always a good idea not to let your guard down and to adopt the generic precautionary measures valid for all species: air the plants by annual pruning, water only under the foliage without ever wetting the aerial part, occasionally spray a few macerates or strengthening extracts like equisetum, or a propolis-based product.
Insects and other pests
Unfortunately, it seems that the snails they are very fond of goji leaves and therefore in their presence it becomes important to organize oneself by burying around beer traps, sprinkling rings of ash around plants or distributing an ecological slugicide of iron orthophosphate to spread around the floors.
Aphids that also threaten wolfberry are eliminated by spraying plants with nettle, garlic or chilli extracts, or defeated by spraying diluted soap.
Size of shrubs
goji pruning may differ depending on whether it is grown single bush or true trellis culture but in both cases the rule of renew successful training every year that the plant produces in the shoots of the year.
We then proceed to shorten the branches, leaving the first 2-4 shoots, so that the new shoots start from there.
The period indicated for these size operations from winter to spring, excluding periods of intense cold . In summer, the main pruning intervention is the elimination of discards .
Cultivation of the Goji pot
goji plants grown in pots they are smaller than those grown in the ground but can still be satisfactory , provided they are watered regularly and placed in sufficiently large containers. Over time, we will have to replant the plants and fill the soil, periodically adding compost and liquid natural fertilizers such as diluted macerates or blood meal.
Harvesting and properties of berries
Goji fruits are bright red and are harvested between August and November , depending on the growing area. The plant is quite generous and produces, as an indication, on average 3 kg of berries for each adult specimen, in abundant clusters. to collect them delicately separated by hand taking care not to break the petiole.
The fruits are eaten fresh, but also dehydrated , with a traditional procedure that foresees a first phase in the shade and then in the sun to wrinkle the skin and the external part, leaving the internal core smooth. At the professional level, there are standardized drying protocols that include cold methods, but for self-production we can safely proceed with natural drying.
Today we find goji processed into juices and jams and also in the form of beneficial and quite expensive supplements. The high price of this healthy product can be a strong motivation to grow it on our own, allowing us to obtain a healthy and valuable food without spending a fortune. In fact, goji can rightly be considered a nutraceutical food. being particularly rich in antioxidants and precious mineral salts.
Variety of Goji
In addition to goji of the two main species Lycium Barbarian and chinese lycium classic red berries, are also found black goji botanically called Ruthenian Lycium which is grown in a similar way to what has just been described for the classic goji, is also resistant to winter cold and adaptable to different soils and produces black berries you are also in excellent health.