No wonder the goji berry is called the wolfberry – it packs a powerful punch for being such a little guy.
The goji berry is a bright orange-red berry that comes from a shrub native to China. In Asia, goji berries have been eaten for generations, and the Chinese believe that it is a potent tool to living a longer, healthier life.
Hum, it seems to be working for them.
Goji berries are used in many countries around the world to treat common health problems like:
- high blood pressure
- age-related eye problems
Goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins), and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines, and medicines.
Grow Your Own
In North America, goji berry plants can grow as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida, in Zone 3 to Zone 10. They can survive the most harsh winters; however, I recommend mulching them in the winter months.
Like most berry plants, you can grow goji berries in a tub on your patio, as shrubbery around the house, in
a small garden, or by the acre on trellises in growing fields.
The vines will grow to over ten feet in length. Plants can be trimmed as a bush, with adult plants requiring
as little as four square feet of space.
A Powerful Punch
Three ounces of dried goji berries have approximately 80% of a person’s daily nutrient requirements (not calories). The best flavor comes from the dried berries. And, you can even use the leaves.
The leaves can be harvested all year long for tea and eaten fresh in salads. If you are growing goji mainly for its fruit, you shouldn’t remove the leaves until late fall, before the first frost.
You can pick, wash, and remove the stems (if any), and put the berries into bags to freeze, or use a dehydrator to make snackie goji berries. These are perfect for lunch boxes and to leave in your desk drawer at work.
Your Garden Of Health
Some studies using goji berry juice have found potential health benefits that include a feeling of well being and calmness, better athletic performance, a deeper quality of sleep, and weight loss.
Bottom-line, most all berries are good for you. It’s not clearly proven yet if goji berries are better for your health than other types of berries, or if goji berry supplements have the same health benefits as the actual berries, but history shows they are well worth adding to your garden of health.
How To Grow Goji
Soil pH is important for goji. Your soil can be slightly acidic, but the plants really prefer an alkaline soil with a pH higher than 7.0. Here’s an important tip:
Do NOT plant using a peat based potting mix, and do not use any manure or compost. If you are not planting in the ground, simply use a standard cheap potting mix and do not use Miracle Grow Moisture Control® or anything like it. Do not use Miracle Grow fertilizer, either. And, do not use pre-made potting soils because almost all have peat moss. Peat is no gooda for the goji.
For containers, use plain top soil with a little perlite. Or take soil from your yard, and if needed mix top soil and perlite.
After your plants have established, the mature plants in sandy soil should be watered more often than the plants in heavy soil. Watering the foliage may harm the fruit blossoms, so it is better to water just the roots.
Depending on the climate, if there is not regular rainfall, mature plants may need to be watered once every two weeks with an inch or more of water. Once these plants are established, they are very drought tolerant.
Goji berries might interact with some drugs. If you are on blood thinners or blood pressure meds, like warfarin, you may want to monitor the goji berries. Goji berries may also interact with diabetic drugs, so talk with your doctor and let him know your dietary changes.
Remember, everything in moderation. But, if the health benefits of a natural food is strong enough, and effective enough, to compete with manufactured drugs, then, to me, this is a testimony to the quality of the food, and to Nature’s intent to provide food sources that support health.
Go go goji!
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.