Goji berry plant
For many people in Greece the Goji berry is a completely unknown plant. But in the health food world, in recent years, I would say that they are one of the most popular fruits. Mainly athletes and sportsmen, but also people in general who follow a healthy diet, use them despite their increased price. This prompted me to look for more information about the plant and its cultivation.
Already there seems to be quite a lot of interest. Many people want to plant 2-3 plants in their pots or garden, and there are a few adventurous farmers who are interested in growing them professionally.
In winter, the small seedlings grow very slowly. But once the weather warms up, and they are transplanted into pots, their growth is rapid. And when the root of the plant fills the pot, the plant is ready to be transplanted into a large pot or garden. From the very first summer-autumn we will have a few samples of Goji fruit from these plants, and they are expected to reach full production in the 3rd year.
For the time being, the data we have tells us that it can be grown in Greece as well, as the plant can withstand temperatures from -20 to 40 degrees Celsius, needs plenty of sun and relatively alkaline soils that have good drainage.
Already in Crete, the Peloponnese and Attica some Goji Berry plants have been cultivated, on a completely amateur level and by individuals who have a love and passion for the plants.
The fact that in the places where the plant thrives there are large temperature differences between night and day, makes us optimistic that in northern Greece it might even be better adapted.
In their home country, Goji berries are eaten raw during the production season and then dried. Apart from the fruit, however, their leaves are also consumed as vegetables in dishes and salads. Also, the leaves and bark of the trees are made into a decoction.
In the Greek market, due to the fact that fresh fruits are very delicate, Goji are available in dried form and in the form of juice and tablets. However, they lose much of their nutrients during processing for the production of juice and tablets, so it is better to consume them as dried fruit.
In this form they can be eaten plain, like raisins, or added to various dishes and salads. They are also added to mixed nuts, muesli and cornflakes or juiced in a blender with the addition of water.
But if they are grown in Greece, we will know their degree of sensitivity, and whether and for how long they can be preserved in their natural form. And for all you know, we might be one of the lucky few to consume Goji Berries fresh!
This publication is based on texts by Panagiotou Eleni.