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Plants from seed of sun-dried goji berries. Possible?


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danmac
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 06 Oct 2007
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Location: Kerry

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Plants from seed of sun-dried goji berries. Possible? Reply with quote

Hi folks. Following a tipoff after a passing comment to a neighbour, that I'd love to try goji berries, maybe even grow them, I have discovered that a local health food store has been selling the fruit as packs of sun-dried berries with a while. So today I picked up a packet to see what they were like.
Now everything that I have read about the goji plants seems to indicate that they should have no problem with the Irish climate,as they can grow successfully in much harsher temperatures than we get down here in Kerry. However asking at a few garden centres has returned no results in my search for plants. In fact the only place I have even seen them for sale is online, by a crowd in England called Thompson & Morgan. Unfortunately T&M won't deliver plants outside the UK, probably some quarantine regulations or the like preventing them.
So I guess what I'm really asking is if anyone here on Irish Gardeners.com has tried growing these and if yes, the plants were obtained.
Also wondering if it is likely that the process of drying the berries has made the seed unviable. The packet seems to indicate that no other chemicals (e.g. sulfites) have been used. The dried berries while quite shrivelled, have still a slight bit of moisture and are very sticky inside. I'm hoping that the seeds have survived. Any comments welcome.
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verge
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The germination rate from sun dried goji berries would be very low. BUT and this is a good BUT, there are 20-35 seeds inside each fruit. so a possibilty of at least one seed being viable. I have never sown them, but I know that the seeds are small. Small seeds only require a small bit of compost covering them in a 9cm pot, for goji seeds I would say about 1/2 inch of compost covering.
Keep the compost on top of the pot regularly damp with a hand mister until the sprouts are well up, then change waterering to a small spout watering can.

Fresh goji berries.

danmac, if you do attempt this experiment and I think you should, we would love to see pics of the process. It would even help the process if we notice something amiss and can help you sort it. Smile
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danmac
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I have approx. 500-600+ seeds sown in 3 shallow trays since Monday afternoon. To separate them from the dry fruit I rehydrated the berries for 2 hours which made them much more workable. I planted them in a mix of sand, Shamrock potting compost and a bit of Browngold as well, since I read that although alkaline conditions suit the mature plant, they like a slightly lower and acidic pH for germination. This may be a mechanism that the plant uses to determine if the seed is near the surface of the soil, since in a more natural case it would expect to find more recently decayed material on top, which I think would give a more acidic environment. At least that is my theory on it!
Anyway I've been giving them a nice even mist of boiled water about 4 times a day so hopefully that will help as they should have adequate moisture. Hopefully there is life in there somewhere among the hundreds of seeds..
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danmac
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Signs of life!!!
Today, I am happy to report, I found that about a dozen or so of the seeds had germinated overnight. (11 days since planting) This is excellent, as the more sprout, the better the chances of getting a plant to maturity.
I've taken a few snaps along the way and put a few online with captions describing what I was doing, for any of you that may also be interested or maybe even considering a similar experiment with gojis.
I will keep posting as I (hopefully) progress.

http://picasaweb.google.com/danmcsw/ProjectGoji

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Sb
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OOOO!! I have been lurking around this topic hoping for some word of your seeds sprouting danmac. Thunderbirds are go. Congrats. I cant wait to see what happens next. Shocked
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danmac
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote








Figured it was about time to show what the goji seedlings look like at this point. (6 weeks after germination)
I have actually been somewhat inundated with them, as the seeds turned out to be much more viable than expected, and the total number of seeds which germinated now totals 80 or more. I have been experimenting with transferring the seedlings out of the trays in which they germinated at different ages. The first 3 were transplanted very early, only 2 weeks after germination, I think it was on St. Stephen's day actually. Happily all 3 are still growing and healthy. About 2 weeks later, I potted out about 42 more of them, the majority of which are doing quite well. One or two didn't take but these have been replaced again by other seedlings.
You will probably notice in the pics that I have "planted" bits of twisty wire beside each potted seedling. The reason why I did this was the.seedlings seem very floppy when standing alone. The wire, which is just the type you would use in to tie climbing plants, seemed like the simplest way to make a crutch to help them grow more upright.
Since the seedlings, other than being a bit floppy, are healthy, I have a theory on this: Maybe, when in their natural habitat a 1cm goji berry falls to ground , 20+ seedlings may start to sprout from within this 1 cm space. In this situation it is likely that the seedlings lean against their siblings which helps keep them upright. Eventually the stongest seedling would win out in the fight for light by outgrowing its siblings and only this one plant would live on to become a goji tree.
As I unfortunately don't have a greenhouse, and a lot of other refugees on my windows this time of year, I could only devote one windowsill to the gojis. Because of my limited windowsspace and the large number of seedlings, I built a kind of window optimiser shelf using some laminated chipboard and some threaded bar for legs which allowed me to make 3 tiers of plants on one windowsill. The threaded bar allowed me to adjust the levels to the height I wished. The 2 extra shelves are slightly wider than the normal windowsill, so for stability they are tied onto the sash fitting at the top of the window. This gives a nice firm setup for placing flower pots..
For watering I have been using only water which has been boiled. We keep any boiled water which is leftover, from boiling eggs or making tea, for the houseplants.
I have also come up with a method for giving the water to the gojis. I use a type of syringe which came originally with a refill kit for filling inkjet printer cartridges. The syringe is exactly 10ml and has a blunt needle which allows me to get the water in close to the seedling, while at the same time not actually getting the seedling wet. (which would increase the risk of disease.) About every 2 weeks I give each pot a full 10ml of water from the syringe and in between I give each pot one-third of the syringe on alternate days, this seems to have been working well so far. The pots in the second image above have just received 3ml of water shortly before the picture was taken.
One last thing with which I have experimented; about 16 of the potted seedlings are growing in a 60/40 mix of light garden soil and potting compost, the remainder are growing in potting compost alone.
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, well done danmac.
I hope these keep growing stronger and stronger for you over the upcoming few weeks. All signs point to yes, as you are giving them loads of care and attention.
Am I right in saying that you have 80 germinators from a batch of 600 seeds?
A 10% + germination rate, which is not bad considering the drying and sulphites etc.
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Sb
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely brilliant. Both the young plants and the way in which they have caused you to develop new shelving and watering systems in your home. I love the twist ties as well. Can't wait to see how the young plants turn out.
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danmac
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes indeed, 80 plus germinators from 600 seeds(estimated), which is way beyond what I expected. Finding room for the ones that are still to be planted in pots is my next problem, I can probably fit 20 more or so with a bit of shuffling, and as long as i use small 3" pots (at present I've about 30 in 3" pots and about 15 in 3.5" pots.) I might have to build another shelving thingy, I have another idea of how to make a single shelf by suspending it from the windows sash at the outside and from a curtain pole at the inside Very Happy Might not be quite as secure but it won't need to hold much weight. Necessity is the mother of invention! I'm trying to work where possible with materials that I have to hand, like the wire ties and the chipboard.
I'll keep ye posted on developments.
Oh, one last thing here's the actual pack from which the seeds were obtained, in case any of you want to check for them in your locality. I have noticed that the company (Linwoods) has recently begun advertising health food products on RTE.

They seem to have a different package displayed on their website. Don't know whether there is a difference or if it is just an older packaging.
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Sb
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any updates on your plants danmac. Are you swamped by berries yet? Razz
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ian
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Danmac
Well done on the Goji germination, If you are still stuck for room for these guys, I'll take half a dozen off you and give them a good home in the dublin mountains.
Regards, Ian.
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danmac
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit of an update, sorry for the lateness, though until recently there wasn't that much change to report.
First off, back in February I gave the excess unpotted seedlings which I had to a gardening friend who runs a garden centre a few miles from here. Unfortunately I had been ill, and really had enough to do in keeping the already potted plants going at the time, along with all my other houseplants, so rather than leave the unpotted ones go wild in the seed trays, I asked him if he wanted them. He'd never even heard of "lycium barbarum" before but was always willing to try something new, so we did a swap for a few plants from the gardening centre.
For almost 2 months there wasn't anything too dramatic changing in the goji plants. They would develop a few new leaves, but remained much the same height. I did notice that the stems thickened a little in most of them, losing the appearance of a seedling, easily crushed type stem and getting a stronger looking, and darker shade of green, stem.
Then with the lengthening daylight, I decided around St. Patrick's Day to start giving them some plant food along with the watering.
This is the plantfood I use on the gojis. It's a seaweed based feed, which according to what I've read from various sources on the web is the best type to use with gojis.

I don't know for certain if it was the result of this feeding, or if it was simply caused by the longer daylight, but around Easter (roughly two weeks ago) many of them began to sprout significantly and grow taller like this:

As you can see in the above image, the plant has grown to between 3 and 4 times its height in just a few weeeks. The main cluster of "old" leaves at the bottom indicating the height at which the plant had been for the previous 2 months.
Here are some more sprouters of various heights:


You will notice that, on some of the plants, a few of the lower leaves are withering. At first this worried me. Fungal attack is the first thing that enters the mind on seeing something like this, but when these plants remained otherwise healthy, and continued to grow quite vigorously, I began to form the opinion that it was just the plants' way of discarding the oldest leaves to concentrate their energy on the new leaves further up the plant. Those discarded leaves may very well be the first leaves the plant formed, so perhaps after 4 months of food production for the plant, it is simply likely that their number is up.
Not all of the plants have begun to grow so vigorously either. Most have done so, but some are still making very slow progress. As I speculated earlier with regard to the large number of seeds per berry, in the natural environment, it is probably a race for light, and hence life, between the sibling goji plants, which would be growing so close together. The weaker/slower plants would almost certainly end up being killed off by being in the shade of the most vigorous and tallest. The weaker ones in my group are probably only alive at all at this stage because of the artificial way in which I have arranged the plants on my window, placing the smaller ones on the light side of the taller ones so they still get light.
One last thing I have observed; gojis seem to be attractive to aphid type pests. Early in March I had a bit of a scare when some aphid type creatures appeared on a few of the gojis. Although the plants are indoors at present, I think most of you will have at some stage have encountered those tiny, black, fly-like insects that can sometimes come in at night when you open the door with the light on. Smaller than a midge, and more fly shaped than the mosquito type body shape which midges have. (They are also really annoying if they get on your computer screen as well - if you squish them they leave goo on your screen.) Anyway I think it is the larvae of these insects that got in and thought they would have a feast on my goji plants. Fortunately I spotted them early, (the affected plants' leaves began curling) and gave them a nice glass of Roseclear to go with their meal.
It's gonna be tough keeping the pests off them once they go outside.
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danmac
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just one more pic I decided to take, comparing one of the weakest to one of the more vigorus plants.

Other than the pot being slightly smaller, both plants have received the same attention. In their natural environment, I believe there would be little hope for the plant on the left even if only 3 or 4 plants such as the one on the right were in close proximty.
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cooler
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loooooooove this thread. I am learning so much.
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tamarinds and passion fruit seeds are also easy to grow; tamarinds are quite a pleasant look plant, too.
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