Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

goji berry plants
gojiberries out in the garden

Most of my flowers and perennials these days are generally low water users, at least once they became established, however the same is not true of all my edible plants. When the state officials announced the need for even deeper cuts to our water use early this year, I decided what my most prized or hard to replace plants were, mainly the fruit trees and camellias, and then I diverted the limited grey water from our front load washer machine to those trees and shrubs. Our samsung washing machine only uses about 13 gallons per load so there really isn’t that much gray water to go around. Any of the plants I felt would be easy to replace later on down the road, if necessary, were generally left to fend for themselves.

An assortment of sizes of Goji Berries when grown without irrigation in Southern California

I didn’t realize it until I stopped watering the majority of back garden that the Goji Berries should be on every drought tolerant friut list, at least for USDA zone 9 and 10. But I would never recommend them to anyone, especially to plant in the ground. The Gojis look better than ever this year, as you can see by the above photo. The Gojiberries were the only plants that I could have cared less if they died. No, scratch that, they were the one plant I kind of HOPED would die in the drought and then I could plant something else there I liked much better, like one of my many strawberry verte fig trees. No such luck.

Normally the goji plants are plagued by powdery mildew as the season wears on, and look terrible by the end of summer, similar to what sometimes shows up on pumpkin or melon plants. (One of them many reasons I am not a fan of them.) No mildew this fall. There are thousands of healthy plump Goji berries ready to harvest. If I am not careful and diligent, they will self sow every where. (Reason number two to hate them.) I picked as much as I could last weekend and dried/dehydrated most of them. It did improve the taste a little, but I am still not a fan of Gojiberries, even though they are a “superfood.”

gojiberries plant
We are drying the gojis in the oven

When I think of berries, I think of the flavors of things like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. I don’t think Goji should be referred to as a berry since berry or sweet aren’t the first flavors that come to mind when eating them, especially fresh off the plant. And definitely do not pick them under ripe! If they are not fully ripe when harvested, they are bitter and nasty. Ripe, they taste nothing like any of the other berries I grow, more like a veggie. The closest flavored fruit I can think of is a Surinam cherry, but most folks haven’t tasted those either, so that doesn’t really help in describing the flavor. They do taste slightly sweeter after drying, more like a red bell pepper. In my opinion, anyone telling you gojis are sweet and delicious is probably trying to sell them to you or a plant. On the other hand, the chickens do think they are absolutely wonderful. They gobble the little fruits up whenever I let them into the area where they grow. My blackberries canes adjacent to the Gojiberries died by the end of the summer due to the lack of winter rains and the lack of any supplemental fresh water, so if nothing else, Gojis are a great fruit for drought tolerant gardens. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Gojiberry plants are very invasive and thorny (which is my third and main reason I hate them.)

Update September 2015: It took more than a half a year of initially digging out and then diligently checking every few days for any new growth from roots left behind. I am happy to report that the goji berry plants appear to have been permanently removed from the garden.

4 thoughts on “Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

  1. Glad you’re well Lianne, minus life’s usual issues. Yes, the drought has brought painful changes to many of us! Don’t worry about posting!

  2. I am sorry about the lack of posts. Life got busy. My computer hard drive died (and is still dead.) The drought had me depressed in relation to gardening so I did not feel much like posting anything. And on top of that, I had some major issues with the mobile version of my blog and it was avoiding dealing with it by staying away. I spent about 12 hours debuging it yesterday. I think I fixed it. If you notice major format problems, please let me know.

  3. Hi Lianne,
    I hope you’ve been well, as you haven’t posted for sooo long. I look forward to your posts; they’re full of great info!
    Laurie, from San Juan Capistrano

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