Ginger root is a popular ingredient for culinary use especially in Indian and Asian flavored cuisine. With its pungent aroma and sharp, spicy flavor ginger adds another dimension to sauces, soups, teas, and green drinks. Ginger is also used for its medicinal properties as it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Therapeutically, ginger has traditionally been used for:
- Relieving muscle and joint aches and pain
- Help with digestion issues
- Reducing nausea
- To help fight the flu and common cold
- Boosting the immune system
The part of the ginger plant that is most commonly used is the rhizome which is a subterranean part of the plant stem that grows horizontally and produces shoots above and roots below. Ginger is a perennial plant that grows in India, Southern Asia, and the tropical regions around the world. It also grows well in here in South Florida at the Hippocrates Health Institute. Each year we grow dozens of ginger plants in the Hippocrates Organic Garden for use in our kitchen and for the benefit of our guests. It is best eaten raw but, it can also be dried and ground to a powder and put in capsules and taken orally.
If you live in a tropical region like South Florida you can grow ginger outdoors. In other parts of the world you can grow ginger indoors as a potted plant. Either way, you should use rich, well-drained soil such as a good organic potting soil. Choose a sunny location or partial shade. Purchase the raw ginger rhizomes online or from your local grocery store or Asian market. You can break off the branches of the rhizomes to create more plants. Plant the rhizome pieces two inches deep and twelve inches apart. Keep the soil moist but not too wet or the root may rot. Fertilize with compost tea or side dress each plant with compost once every two weeks.
It takes eight to ten months for the plant to reach maturity. During this time the plant will grow leaves 3 – 4 feet high. Eventually, the plant will bloom a stunningly beautiful white and purple flower. Shortly afterwards the plant will start to turn yellow and the leaves will dry out. That’s the signal when your ginger is ready to dig up. Cut the dried leaves off from the rhizome and gently brush the dirt off. Do not rinse with water as this may cause the rhizome to rot. It is now ready to use. Save a few pieces of root and start more plants for the next season. You can store any excess in an air-tight container kept in a cool dark place where it will keep for up to 6 months.