The tropical vegetable ginger boasts a fierce flavour that packs a punch. This vegetable boasts numerous health benefits, which is one of the reasons many choose to grow it at home.
It’s also extremely easy to grow, which makes it a popular option for amateur gardeners. If you’re considering giving it a go at home, here’s what you need to know…
More about ginger
Ginger is a flowering shrub that is native to south-east Asia and it is among one of the healthiest (and most flavoursome) spices on planet Earth. Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and it’s closely related to cardamom, turmeric, and galangal.
Where is ginger used?
Ginger is a popular flavour used in both Asian and Indian dishes, due to its distinctive kick. However, it’s not only used to add spice to food, it’s also popular because of its medicinal properties, some of which are said to heighten the immune system and aid digestive issues.
How to consume ginger
The plant’s root can be eaten fresh, in dried form, or as a powder. It’s also often used to flavour oils, teas, smoothies, and juices, adding a fiery kick to both food and beverages.
Why grow ginger indoors?
As it’s a tropical vegetable, ginger prefers a warmer environment and will seldom survive in frosty temperatures. This makes the indoors a perfect location to grow this root vegetable. The best time to start growing ginger indoors is from the early spring.
Those that live in a tropical climate should plant ginger at the beginning of the wet season while those residing in cooler climes should cultivate ginger after the last of the frost.
Choosing which ginger plant to grow
It’s easier than you think to grow ginger at home. Begin by picking up a ginger root from your local supermarket. The most common species to grow, especially if you wish to use it in dishes and beverages, is Zingiber officinal.
If you’re growing it for ornamental purposes, other variants, including flowering species, are more suitable. For best results, always opt for organic ginger.
If you wish to grow more than one ginger plant, simply cut the rhizome (the root) into multiple pieces. You can divide the root using a clean, sharp knife. Cuttings should measure a minimum width of 2.5cm to 3.5cm.
Once you’ve cut the root into pieces, store them in a dry, safe location for a few days, ensuring a space of 20cm between each cutting.
Doing so will encourage the ginger pieces to form a protective armor, which helps to lower the risk of infection.
How to prepare the soil for planting
To ensure optimum growing success, it’s important to invest in well-drained soil of a high quality, such as a combination of well-rotted compost and garden soil. Alternatively, use rock potting soil. Ginger thrives in soil that is slightly acidic.
A good growing tip includes filling a starting tray with coconut fibre or sphagnum moss. Both drain extremely well and help to stave off rot in young plants.
Choosing the correct environment to grow ginger
Ginger grows best when placed in partial shade, even though it can tolerate environments with morning sun. For best results, place ginger plants in a sheltered spot in the home, away from draughty areas, and in locations that boast a temperature of 22°C (c. 71F) to 25°C (c.77F).
When choosing a container to grow your ginger plant in, make sure it has a depth of 30cm. It’s recommended that you opt for a plastic pot as opposed to containers made of terra cotta, as drainage holes are a must! Once you’ve picked your pot, it’s time to plant your ginger.
Place your ginger pieces in loose soil, ensuring the buds are directed upwards. If planting more than one piece of ginger in the same container, it’s important to ensure they are at least 20cm apart. Most choose to plant between two and three pieces in one large pot.
Ginger plant after-care
After-care is just as important as the initial stages of planting. You’ll need to ensure the soil is kept damp, beginning by watering the plant immediately after planting.
It’s also important to regularly check your ginger, particularly during the cooler months, watering again when the soil looks to be drying out. However, be very careful not to overwater, as this can cause root rot.
Depending on where you live, you may wish to switch up the location of your ginger plant, especially in the winter months, moving it to a warmer area in the home. Alternatively, cover the soil with a thick layer of mulch when temperatures drop below 10°C (c. 50F).
How to use ginger
When your plant has matured, usually after the stems cease (after around eight months), it’s time to dig up the ginger rhizome. Providing you leave a few ‘eyes’ (growth buds) behind, the plant will not be harmed. These buds will look like small horns protruding from the ginger.
Ginger is used to treating various ailments, including numerous variants of vomiting and nausea. It can also be used to treat diabetes, colds and flu, menstrual cramps, headaches, osteoarthritis, and other issues. Ginger’s unique smell and flavour come from its natural oils, the most imperative of which is gingerol.
In fact, this compound is ginger’s main bioactive element and is responsible for many of this plant’s medicinal properties. It boasts powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and is said to also reduce the impact of oxidative stress.
Uses in food
Powdered, grated, or peeled ginger root can be used to add a strong, tasty flavour to numerous dishes and drinks. It’s a great plant to have in the home, as it can instantly take a dish from mediocre to fiery when used in glazes, sauces, and marinades. Stir-fry’s and noodle bowls just wouldn’t be the same without it!
When grown in the home, ginger offers plentiful benefits. It’s also an extremely easy plant to grow, which makes it a popular choice for amateur plant growers and those with busy lifestyles.
Sources: lovethegarden.com, gardeningknowhow.com