How to Grow Ginger
Ginger is usually grown for its roots and consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. The edible root is actually a rhizome of the ginger plant, which is like a thick lateral root that can produce shoots of foliage. Growing it is fairly simple if given the right conditions. Ginger thrives in tropical settings, so high moisture and fertile soil is essential. Drainage is equally important to discourage saturation and disease. Ginger can grow in compact areas, even when over-crowded, making it a perfect container plant.
Once ginger is harvested, it can be used in a variety of recipes spanning many South Asian dishes, healthy teas, ginger cookies, and ginger ales. Ginger also has many medicinal uses, and is rich in several vitamins & minerals.
Ideal Locations for Growing Ginger
Ginger is very selective over its environment. Ginger loves sheltered areas, filtered sunlight, warmth, humidity, and moist soils. This is due to it being a topical plant that thrives on jungle and forest floors underneath sunshine-filtered canopies. Consistent temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher are perfect for ginger growth.
What ginger cannot tolerate is frost, direct sun, strong winds, and waterlogged soil. These types of conditions will cause the foliage and root system to diminish quickly. Freezing temperatures will easily kill the ginger plant.
Ginger does not take up much space. Each planted rhizome will only sprout a few leaves while young, and more leaves will appear as ginger slowly ages. The foliage of ginger will only grow 2 to 3 feet in height. A 12-inch pot easily holds 3 average size rhizomes. Ginger isn't particularly concerned with overcrowding either, but allow a 6 to 8 inch spacing if planting in the ground.
If ginger is not harvested and left to grow, the rhizome will turn into a very dense clump. The denser the clump, the healthier the ginger plant.
Soil Requirements for Ginger
Ginger requires soil that is fertile with good drainage. Mixing one part sand into one part fertile compost will accomplish the nutrient and drainage requirements. The soil must have drainage. Drainage cannot be stressed enough. Waterlogged ginger is susceptible to rotting and disease. If the existing soil already meets these requirements, then adding sand and compost is unnecessary.
Moisture Requirements for Ginger
Ginger requires quite a bit of water during its growing period. The soil should never completely dry out during season. Be careful not to over-water, because the water that drains away causes leeching of nutrients from the soil. Watering needs to be reduced when die-back occurs, which is when ginger is out of season. Letting the soil dry promotes rhizome growth, and allows the leaves fall off. It is within this time period when ginger is harvested.
Dry locations, such as the indoors, may not provide adequate environmental humidity. Dry air can promote pests like spider mites. This can be easily solved by using a sprayer or mister. Ginger grown in the ground should always be surrounded by mulch. Mulching helps with several conditions. It retains moisture, adds nutrients as it decomposes, and suppresses weeds. Suppression of weeds is vital because ginger grows slow and cannot compete with weeds.
Obtaining Ginger Rhizomes
The easiest way to start growing ginger is to get a few fresh rhizomes from someone who grows ginger, or from a store when ginger root is in season. Plump rhizomes are the best to start growing with. The rhizomes should also have a few buds, or "eyes", that will soon grow into shoots.
Ginger rhizomes should be soaked in water overnight before planting. Soaking will hydrate the rhizomes and remove possible growth inhibitors applied by suppliers and stores to prevent shoots from growing. Cutting up the a single rhizome into several viable pieces is possible and commonly performed. Be sure to have at least one bud on each rhizome cutting.
The best time to plant ginger is in late winter and early spring. Outside temperatures should never fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit if planting outside. Select an area with plenty of indirect sunlight, also.
The rhizomes should be planted 2 to 4 inches below the soil. The growth buds should face upwards so the shoots can grow straight to the surface. Planting too deep may not allow the shoots to reach the surface, and too shallow will expose the rhizomes to natural elements.
Soil that is loamy and rich in organic matter does not need fertilizing, but potting mix and nutrient deficient soils will need to be fertilized regularly. Areas with regularly occurring heavy rains leech nutrients from the soil and will need fertilizer to replace the leeched nutrients. Tropical regions experience torrential rainfall often, so location alone is a huge factor when it comes to fertilizing. Organic slow release fertilizer should be used around planting time. Liquid fertilizer, like seaweed extract or fish emulsion, should be used every few weeks after planting time.
The foliage will start to die-back after 8 to 10 months. The ginger can then be dug up once die-back occurs. Select the best rhizomes with growth buds to keep for replanting, and the rest can be used in the kitchen. Many people peel, chop, and freeze the ginger for future use.
Growing a good patch of ginger will take a few years, so resisting the urge to harvest after the first year will allow the rhizomes to bulk up.
Nutritional Facts of Ginger
Ginger contains many minerals such as...
And Ginger also contains many vitamins such as...
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- B1, B2, B3 & B6
Medicinal Uses of Ginger
Ginger has been used to help treat...
- Upset Stomach
- Motion Sickness
- Stomach Cramps
- Poor Circulation
Cautions When Using Ginger
Do not consume ginger root if you are taking anticoagulant medications or have gallstones. It should not be taken for an extended period of time during pregnancy either.
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