Ginger is a plant to which the rhizome (the root) is used as a spice for cooking and as an added ingredient to homeopathic medicines. It is known to be one of the healthiest spices you can put into your body. This spicy herb is also added to many DIY cosmetics and other beauty products.
Although originating in China, most of this spiced root we buy today in the United States comes from Hawaii. It is a perennial plant but has an annual stalk. The root is the part of the plant that is harvested.
For extensive information, you can visit WebMD for a complete description of its uses, side effects and more.
Growing and Harvesting Ginger
Ginger is a perennial bulb that normally grows in zones 7 to 10, both in a pot and planted in the ground. It desires a warm, humid climate and filtered sunlight but also prefers to be crowded.
Rich, organic soil with good drainage is required as well as a ph of 5.5 to 6.5. This herb does extremely well in a hydroponic situation. Temperatures of between 77° and 83° are ideal.
The rhizome is planted in late fall throughout early winter at 2″ to 4″ deep and with the desired spacing of about 5″ between each plant. It is a slow grower but can reach 2 to 3 foot in height. Fertilizer is required on a regular basis and 5-5-5 is recommended. Because it prefers a humid climate, a drip system is the preferred watering method.
Harvesting takes place around 10 to 12 months after planting and is usually done after the leaves start to yellow and fall over. Harvesting is done by digging up the rhizome, removing roots and stems, and washing.
Basil and tomatoes make great companions but keep ginger away from onions and turnips. The only real pests are banana aphids and thrips.
Preserving and Using Ginger
Ginger can be preserved in many ways. Some simple methods are listed below.
Add filtered water to minced garlic. Add to a food processor. Place in a baby food jar or larger depending on the quantity made and store in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
Method 1: Mince small pieces of chopped ginger in food processor until a paste. Drop by teaspoon or tablespoon onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set in freezer until frozen. Remove from the cookie sheet. Place in freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible. (Keeps for months)
Method 2: Wrap whole pieces of ginger in waxed paper then into freezer bags into the freezer. (keeps 3 months)
Method 3: Cut old parts off and peel. Wash and cut into small pieces. Place the pieces into a blender then cover with water. Blend the mixture until smooth. Strain with a cheesecloth or t-towel. Add the liquid to icecube trays and use for tea. Place leftover pulp from the cloth into icecube trays. Freeze well then transfer to plastic bags to use in recipes later.
Cut ginger into small pieces. Crush to a pulp in a mortar and pestle. When it becomes a paste add 3 or 4 tablespoons of pulp into a homemade tea bag. Add the tea bag to a mug and fill with hot water then allow to steep for 2 minutes. Remove tea bag and add 1 teaspoon of honey or more to taste.
Ginger is easy to grow, easy to harvest and easy to preserve. There are many recipes using ginger that can be found on the internet. Start growing it on your homestead and be rewarded with the health benefits and great taste. For a well-written and informative post on this herb and its benefits please visit The Wellness Mama.
Do you grow ginger on your homestead? Do you have recipes you use when cooking for your family that include fresh ginger? Please share them in the comments below!