Growing your own ginger (it’s easier than you’d think!)

 (NOTE: this blog was one that we posted a while back, but we figured that because it’s winter and our immune systems can use all the help that they can get this time of year, we ought to post it again.  Enjoy!)

Ginger has been a well-loved and widely used spice since ancient times.  Back then it was very expensive though, whereas these days you can get it cheap from any grocery store.  In Roman times, one pound of ginger typically cost about as much as one whole sheep!  Ginger’s importance faded a bit when the Roman Empire faded, but when it was re-introduced in Europe years later, it regained popularity and that has continued into today’s times.

Today, ginger is popular in American food, but it is a staple in most Asian cuisine.  Ginger packs a powerful healthy punch, boosts the immune system and carries a bunch of other health benefits that can only help you during this cold and flu season.  These (and more) health benefits are why ginger is such a Heroic Health-highly recommended food!

Although it’s arguably much easier to simply purchase chunks of gingerroot from the grocery store, nothing can really compare to the freshness and amazing convenience of just growing your own right from your countertop.  The plants will easily adapt to indoor and container planting, and are actually quite difficult to kill (I have a family known for our collection of brown plants in the house).  It requires considerably low maintenance to grow a bumper crop.  Check out these quick and easy steps to growing health right in your kitchen:

Before you plant:

  • Choose the right type of ginger:
    • Ginger is most often grown indoors from tubers, which you can get from your local grocery store
    • You want to pick a tuber that looks healthy and plump.  You want one that is firm, with several fingers or growing buds.  Avoid dry or damaged pieces
    • The most popular kind by far is gingerroot (Zingiber officinale).  It is used in everything from American desserts and ginger ales to Asian stir fries and savoury dishes
    • BEWARE: not all gingers are considered edible.  Some types are grown strictly for their plants and flowers
    • Choose a suitable place:
      • Growers in climate zone 10 or higher will have the most success growing ginger outdoors.  Unless you live in this climatic area, you will find it much easier to grow it indoors
        • If growing outdoors, choose a space with well-drained soil and light shade
  • Ginger needs a fair amount of room to grow properly.  Containers should be fully twice the size of the tuber
  • You will need to protect your plants from high winds
  • Prepare the soil:
    • Ginger grows surprisingly well in commercially-prepared potting soil
    • Mix organic compost or prepared organic material into the soil to fill the container (if growing in the ground, amend garden soil in the same way)

Planting and growing ginger:

  • What you will need:
    • Gingerroot
    • Prepared soil
    • How to plant ginger:
      • Do not plant it outdoors until daytime temperatures exceed 75 degrees
      • Soak tubers in water overnight before planting
      • Fill containers with prepared soil, or loosen the dirt in your garden location
      • Place ginger in the soil with the buds facing up
      • Cover with a very thin layer of soil (some growers suggest leaving it uncovered)
      • Water lightly until the plant becomes established

Harvesting and pruning ginger:

  • What you will need:
    • Garden clippers of scissors
    • Small garden trowel
    • Steps for care and maintenance:
      • Keep younger ginger plants in the shade
      • Water regularly.  You want to maintain moist, but not wet, soil
      • Once the plant matures, clip tender new shoots for cooking at any time
      • To harvest gingerroot: dig up new tubers that appear at the base of the plant
      • Move plants indoors when temperatures dip below 50 degrees
      • Ginger is dormant during the winter months.  Allow the plant to dry during this time

Additional tips and advice:

  • Roots will reach their optimal flavour at 265 days
  • To store ginger: wash (don’t peel) tubers before placing them in a bag and freezing.  Remove ginger from the freezer and use a vegetable peeler to pare off portions as you need them
  • Plants will mature in 10 months.  They can reach heights of 2’ to 4’

 

References:

http://www.howtogrowstuff.com/how-to-grow-ginger/
http://www.herbs-info.com/blog/how-to-grow-your-own-ginger/

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