Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wolfberry - Goji to some

I've always been interested in those little red, oval berries you get floating in soups and that sexy little white almond desert you get in Chinese restaurants. They're Tibetan wolfberries or goji. (I rather prefer the name wolfberry as its constituent parts mean something to me.) In Japanese, kuko. They're very good for you, apparently.

Plants are impossible to find in shops, and they only seem to be available online. I got mine from Nikko Seeds, which sells them as 'cancer-preventing plants, so t'is said'. Nikko Seeds offers the best deal I could find - four plants for 2,940 yen including shipping. Not cheap, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp wolfberry (these things have thorns, you know).

Growing instructions are confusing. Online sources suggest they require very good drainage (not having on one's clay mound) and full sunshine. The bumf that came with the plants however suggested one should create an environment 'like unto a riverbank or paddy embankment'. These directions seem distinctly contradictory. However, since I have an environment quite like a paddy embankment, I took heart. Anyway, these things apparently grow all over Tibet which I imagine to be quite harsh in many ways, so I think we'll be OK.

Our neighbour has a nice little beagle/terrier mix that he lets roam all over the neighbourhood. I've devised some quite effective means to keep it off our property, lovely though it may be, but in hot pursuit of a cat, it will still launch itself off the embankment and run all over the young vegetables looking for a way out. So I'm thinking that a row of prickly bushes at eye level ought to present an effective barrier to flying beagle/terrier mixes.

Now if I may share a little dream with you: These things will grow well. I'll plant cuttings and have them sprouting all over my garden. Birds will eat lots of them, and passers-by may pick some too (there are a number of interesting middle-aged couples who take walks up our street and who stop to chat.) But even after we've eaten some fresh, put some in alcohol, and dried some others, there will be a surplus of berries. By the time the wolfberries are growing like billy-ho, we'll have chickens. Using the eggs from the chickens and the dried wolfberries or the wolfberries scooped out the alcohol, we'll make pound cakes -- absolutely sublime, organic, 'cancer-fighting' pound cakes. These we'll sell at an exorbitant price through local marketing. With that, the figs, the olives, the eggs, and the lemon marmalade, we'll be well on the way to replacing translation with a high value added farming enterprise. Oh, and did I mention the avocado?


inchoudon said...

Hi, Mr.Rod, how are you?
Are we included among those "interesting middle aged couples"?
I often snitch dried Kuko seeds on the kitchen table and I am always scolded for bad manners. They do not taste so good but they have such a kind of strange taste that I cannot help doing so.
By the way, are you going to change your job from a translator to a farmer ? Has Yumi been for the plan ?

Rod said...

Hello, I'm in England at the moment. More when I get back!

Rod said...

OK, I'm back now. Apart from some jet-lag and tonsillitis, I'm fine thanks.

Although we aren't very strict in our classifications, since you don't actually walk past our house, I had you and Mrs Inchoudon down in the 'people who arrive suddenly in vintage vehicles' category.

I'm sorry to hear about your bad manners, and that dried goji don't taste so good. I hope I can grow good ones. I suppose that all the so-called 'superfruits' like pomegranate and so on are not really that wonderful tasting.

I keep working towards the goal of changing my occupation, since I much prefer being outside, and although I've mentioned this in passing to Yumi, I haven't yet heard any unequivocal confirmation that it's a good idea. Until I can make things grow reliably, perhaps translation is the safer bet.