They’re the latest ‘must have’ miracle berry in celebrity circles. Said to banish cellulite, boost your immune system, contain more vitamin C than oranges and more iron than steak, this Himalayan berry is quite a catch. There’s one problem though, they’re very expensive to buy. Good news then, that these little red berries can be grown in the UK’s climate easily, and you can eat piles of fresh goji berries throughout the summer months from just a few, small bushes.
Growing your own goji berries is not only kinder to your wallet; it’s kinder to the environment too. They are now commercially grown in China, Mongolia and Tibet. The food miles involved in shipping them over to health shops in the UK are quite substantial, so if you have room for a bush or two in your garden or on your balcony, they’ll be a wealth of benefits involved.
How to Grow Goji Berries
Once established, goji berries are incredibly easy to grow. They’ll grow in almost any type of soil, and can even thrive in poor soil, as they are used to the mountainous regions in the Himalayas. They are reasonably drought-tolerant, and will even grow in partial shade (though you’ll get more berries from them if you grow them in full sun).
You can grow them from seed, or buy them as young plants. Buying young plants is far easier, as goji berry seeds are prone to rot in the compost and you’re less likely to get good results. The seedlings also need to be kept in warm conditions for 12 months, so for practical reasons, buying young plants is the more sensible option.
Once they’re a year old, however, they are perfectly winter hardy. Unchecked, they grow into a thick bush that reaches up to three metres tall, with vines that can grow to nearly four metres. If regularly pruned, they will form attractive small bushes that produce more berries as a result.
When your plants first arrive it is likely they will just look like bare twigs with some roots on. Don’t worry, this is normal. If planted straight away and watered well they will grow leaves within two-three weeks. Dig a hole around 50cm deep and wide and place the goji berry plant in it.
Firm the soil around the plant and water well. Leave about 1m between plants and mulch the area around the stems with leafmoluld or garden compost to keep the soil moist and well-nourished. You can even grow the bushes into a goji berry hedge; simply plant them 1m apart in a straight line.
After two years the bushes will start to fruit, and from four years you’ll start to get very heavy yields. In early summer the bushes will produce small, delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers that will be either white or purple. Both coloured flowers can feature on one plant, so they provide visual interest before the berry production begins.
The berries will begin to set in autumn. The ripe fruit are sweet and juicy and almost shiny in appearance. The flowers will continue to bloom right up until the first frosts, however, so your plants will be red, white and purple throughout late summer and autumn.
They are beautiful to have in your garden, delicious, nutritious, and cheap and easy to grow. If you want health-boosting berries on tap you should consider investing in a goji berry bush or two.