Goji Seeds Hit the Dirt

The very first of the Uncommon Fruits to hit actual dirt isn’t actually one that Lee Reich covered in his book. I’m speaking of Lycium barbarum, or possibly L. chinense, I’m not clear if they are really different species or not. Either way, it is the goji berry, the wolfberry, one of those new fangled super fruits.

I’m not clear on whether they are really any better for you than most other more readily available berries, but I like the dried berries well enough that I’d like to sample the fresh fruit. In so far as I can tell, that means growing it myself. As is common with more obscure fruit plants, concrete cultural information tends to be a little sketchy. I’ve seen a wide range of cold tolerance reported for this plant. I suspect that actual cold hardiness depends somewhat on the cultivar, and somewhat on the growing conditions.

Regardless I’ve tried growing this before, and I’ve found the seed from several sources to be very easy to sprout. The seedlings tend to be challenging for me to keep going though. They seem very prone to slug attacks, and over and under watering take very high tolls on the seedlings.

This time around I’ve opted to start them under lights. I started some seeds outdoors in May, and I’ve lost nearly every single one to slugs already. I took the seeds this time from a bag of Heaven Mountain brand dried berries. Just soak a dozen dried berries in water for a few hours, mash them with a fork, and then the berry can be separated from the seed because the seed sinks more rapidly than the berry.

You can re-dry the seed if you like, or plant immediately. I haven’t noticed that it makes any difference. The germination rate tends to be great either way. Germination from commercially sold seed sources have also given high germination rates.

This time I just sprinkled the seeds on the surface of a small pot of potting soil, sprinkled a small amount of dirt over half the seedlings, and placed it a few inches beneath a florescent desk lamp. The reason for covering only half the seeds is in case I miss watering for a day or two, the covered seeds may survive better. The exposed seeds will have faster access to light, and perhaps that small margin faster start will help them get beyond the delicate stage just a wee bit faster.

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