Sustainable Production of Tibetan Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum) in Central Missouri
To determine if the non-traditional, highly nutritious Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum) can be grown in mid-Missouri and provide a valuable alternate crop for small farmers.
• We tilled four 130’ x 3’ rows on a small plot of land on the north end of our property.
• The soil is typical Missouri clay overlain by a moderate layer of glacial loess so we amended it with chopped leaves, cotton burr compost and Len’s mineral mix (see below).
• A woven plastic weed barrier was laid down.
• We planted 100 goji berry seedlings that had been germinated by us the previous year.
• We spread a mulch of cedar chips and installed Blue-X grow tubes for warmth and protection.
• We utilized a drip tape for irrigation and deliverance of liquid fertilizer.
• We watered as needed, monitored growth and kept the area free of weeds.
This year grant funds were spent for the purchase of:
24 bags of Cotton burr compost
2 rolls weed block fabric
1 5 gal. bucket of Len’s mineral mix composed of several rock powders and mycorrhize fungi in a matrix of ground alfalfa
100 goji berry seedlings
54 hours labor for soil preparation, planting, mulching, etc.
6 hours labor for maintenance
8 truck loads of cedar mulch
Drip irrigation system
1 quart liquid fertilizer
100 grow tubes and stakes
1 mulch fork
Website with blog
• The native habitat for the goji berry, L. barbarum is predominantly northern China, very few plants actually grow in the wild in Tibet due to altitude.
• Bushes grown from seed can have widely variable growth habits and vigor.
• The modified soil that the plants grew in seemed appropriately nutritious and permeable and the grow tubes (Blue-X Shelters) worked very well in protecting the plants and enhancing favorable wavelengths of light for growth.
• The most vigorous bushes kept their leaves well into November after a week or more of freezing temperatures.
• After 20 months since germination, the following observations were made on the amount of growth:
15% of the bushes did not grow,
34% of the bushes showed moderate growth or less,
28% of the bushes showed good growth of 12”-24” and 23% showed exceptional growth of more than 24”
WORK PLAN FOR 2009
• Identify and clone the strongest, most vigorous plants to replace those less strong or have died.
• Place deer deterrent devices around the orchard.
• Add more mulch to the rows.
• Stake and prune bushes that need it.
• General maintenance of the orchard.
• Work more with our website and blog.
• I was interviewed on the KOPN 89.5 FM radio show Farm and Fiddle in Columbia, Missouri on Nov. 5, 2008 along with Joan Benjamin.
• I gave a talk in the Farmer’s Forum at the National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference on Nov. 8, 2008 entitled: “Sustainable Production of The Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum) in Central Missouri”. There were about 30 attendees, ten of whom stayed with me afterwards to ask questions.
• We have developed a website and blog devoted to rural life in Central Missouri and goji berry farming: http://www.carolskitchengarden.com/
I certainly want to continue to work on the website and blog. Further information sharing would depend on what information there is to share. If the bushes survive this strange winter of extremes and continue to grow, I would be happy to write an article for a periodical such as Small Farm Today or Mother Earth News.
If the plants really are successful in developing into a crop then I would like to invite small groups to come and see them.