Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Gojiberry lessons by Susanne Irving 14th November 2017

Around 5 years ago, we planted a gojiberry bush. It was described as hardy and easy to grow. I interpreted this to mean that the plant could essentially be left to its own devices.
And the bush grew – and grew. A lot of branches and leaves developed year after year, but there was no sign of any fruit. This year I was tempted to dig up the plant. However, my husband had spotted some pink flowers on the bush earlier in the season, so the bush earned its stay of execution.
A few weeks ago I went to the bush to inspect the harvest - and the damage the bush had done. Some branches had wrapped themselves around the branches of our apple tree. Others had grown over the fence into the neighbour’s garden. The bush seemed determined to conquer our backgarden. Yes, it carried some bright red berries this year, but the berries were out of my reach and protected by branches with sharp thorns – the bush would clearly not release its treasure without a fight.
I had to yank and pull at each branch in turn, cut it off and harvest the fruit. At the end of about two hours’ labour, the pile of gojiberry branches threatened to suffocate the plants in our square foot garden - and I had harvested less than two dozen berries…
I have since read that gojiberries need to be pruned regularly, as berries grow on new wood.
As someone who is easily distracted and starts a lot of projects at the same time, I need to remember the gojiberry lessons in my writing and other areas of my life:
1)    A lack of discipline creates more work in the long run and hampers the harvest.

2)    When deciding on my actions, I need to remind myself what I am trying to produce: Branches and leaves or fruit? If I am after fruit, some (severe!) pruning of my activities may be required.

About the author: Susanne Irving is the co-ordinator for the Creative Communicators in Petersfield. She has co-written a book with her husband John about their experiences when climbing Kilimanjaro. It is aimed at both trekkers and those who are going through a dark time in their lives. How to conquer a mountain: Kilimanjaro lessons is available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon, with all proceeds going to charity. The German translation Wie man einen Berg bezwingt: Was der Kilimanjaro uns gelehrt hat was published in June 2017.


  1. Personally, I buy them dried from Holland and Barratt and sprinkle them on my breakfast. They are supposed to be a 'superfood'.
    Sometimes, it's OK to profit from others' labours - but it doesn't come cheap! They are pretty expensive in H&B - almost £10 for a bag that lasts about six weeks.

    1. I thought I could save money by growing my own superfood, but my gojiberry bush has a long way to g(r)ow before it offers value for money and effort. ;)

  2. brilliant post Sue - I have been thinking of that proverb "a stitch in time saves nine" recently for similar reasons - so easy to let things "get out of hand" and discipline is needed in many areas of our lives to not lose the fruit. Thank you for this image and a laugh at you wrestling with the goji branches! :)

  3. "A stitch in time saves nine" - a useful proverb to remember when I want to put off until tomorrow what should be done today. :)