Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is surprisingly the most widely used dietary condiment in the world today. It’s actually part of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, which may explain why the health benefits of ginger are so extraordinary.
Ginger comes from rhizomes; a rhizome is an underground stem that grows horizontally and forms roots downwards while leaves and new stems sprout on top. Buds then form at intervals along each stem.
Ginger has been widely used to treat different sorts of ailments and diseases – including diabetes, motion sickness, stomach upset, menstrual problems, diarrhea, flu, arthritis, heart problems, headaches, colds, asthma, persistent cough, sore throat, muscle strains, acid reflux, cold sweating, dizziness, vomiting, ulcerative colitis, nausea and flatulence.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger may be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, gout and knee osteoarthritis.
Modern scientific studies have revealed ginger to have numerous therapeutic qualities – including analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antifungal, expectorant, anti-clotting and hypotensive.
Furthermore, ginger is known to be capable of increasing blood flow, promote sweating and relax peripheral blood vessels.
Although it is a tropical plant, it will adapt easily to indoor and container planting, making it possible for anyone to enjoy fresh ginger throughout much of the year. Here’s what you need to know to bring this favorite into your own kitchen.
Before You Plant
Choose the Right Type of Ginger:
- For practical purposes, ginger is most often home-grown from tubers. Your local grocery store is the best place to find ginger root to propagate.
- The most popular kind of ginger is basic ginger root (Zingiber officinale). It is commonly used in America for cookies, breads, and Ginger ales, while Asian recipes include ginger in savory dishes.
- Choose a tuber that looks healthy and plump. It should be firm with several fingers or growing buds. Avoid dry or damaged pieces.
- Not all gingers are considered edible, some types are instead prized for the plants and flowers.
Find a Suitable Place:
- Plan to grow ginger indoors unless you live in the extreme southern portions of the U.S. or in one of the desert states. Growers in zone 10 or higher will have the most success outdoors.
- Provide your ginger with a generous amount of room. Containers should be fully twice the size of the tuber. To plant more than one tuber in a single container, get one that is 14″-16″ in diameter and 12″ deep.
- Outdoors, choose a spot with light shade and well-drained soil.
- Protect plants from high winds.
Prepare the soil:
1. Mix organic material or prepared compost into soil to fill the container (or amend garden soil in the same manner).
2. Ginger will grow quite well in commercially prepared potting soil.
What You Will Need:
1. Ginger root
2. Prepared soil
How to Plant Ginger:
1. Ginger should not be placed outdoors until daytime temperatures exceed 75 degrees.
2. Soak tubers overnight in water before planting.
3. Fill containers with prepared soil, or loosen the dirt in your garden location.
4. Place ginger in the soil with the buds facing up.
5. Cover with a very thin layer of soil. (Some growers suggest leaving it uncovered).
6. Water lightly until the plant becomes established.
Ginger requires very little maintenance. Here’s what you need to do.
What You Will Need:
- Garden clippers or scissors
- Small garden trowel
Steps for Care and Maintenance:
- Younger ginger plants should remain in the shade.
- Water regularly to maintain moist (not wet) soil.
- Once the plant matures, clip tender new shoots for cooking at any time.
- To harvest ginger root, dig up new tubers that appear at the base of the plant.
- Move plants indoors when outdoor 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 reach their optimum flavor at 265 days.
-To store ginger, wash (don’t peel) tubers before placing them in a bag and freezing them. Remove ginger from the freezer and use a vegetable peeler to pare off portions as you need them.
-Plants will mature in about ten months, reaching heights of 2″-4″.