Planting ginger seems like an arduous task at first. However, after knowing how to do it right, you will realize that it is easy. If you have no idea how to do it right, we’ll help you. This guide will provide valuable insights on how to successfully grow ginger in the garden. More than this, you will also know more about its history, health benefits, culinary applications, and other uses.
Background and History
Ginger is native to Southeast Asia but is also present in the world. The Latin name of ginger is Zingiber officinale. It is from the Zingiberaceae family, which is the same as turmeric and cardamom. Ginger got its name after Singabera, a Sanskrit word that means shaped like a horn. This refers to the appearance of ginger.
India and China are the two countries that first used ginger. In the 1st century, ginger trading began in Mediterranean region. Meanwhile, in the 15th century, ginger became popular in the Caribbean and Africa.
During the ancient times, ginger was famous for its medicinal value more than its flavor. In as early as 500 BC, Confucius considered ginger as an effective aid in digestion. In 77 AD, meanwhile, in De Materia Medica, ginger appeared as an herb for warming and softening the stomach.
To understand the history of ginger, let us look at its uses in different regions. In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, Ginger has the reputation of being a healing gift. Chinese tradition dictates that ginger is useful for warding unwanted spirits. In the Koran, meanwhile, ginger is the main ingredient for the beverages of holy spirits. The works of Dioscorides and University of Salerno in Italy also provides details about the medicinal uses of ginger.
The Spaniards are known to be the ones to introduce ginger in the New World. In 1585, they began its distribution from Santa Domingo.
You should know not only the history of ginger to understand this globally-popular spice. It pays to be familiar with its various types, which include the following:
Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger delivers a broad range of health benefits. There is no wonder why since the ancient times, ginger is a favorite spice. Here are some of its most notable health benefits:
- Digestion: Ginger facilitates the digestion process, especially when you consume it in the form of tea. Historical uses of ginger include treatment of flatulence, bloating, gas, and constipation, among others. It also has gastroprotective components, especially for an ulcer. Ginger also presents an alternative treatment to dyspepsia, actually preventing pain in the upper stomach.
- Cancer: For a long time now, researchers claim that ginger is one of the most efficient ways to prevent the growth of cancer cells. It contains gingerol, which is the one responsible for inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. One research from the University of Minnesota claims that ginger prevents the growth of colorectal cancer in one study involving mice. Raw ginger is the best source of compounds that will help to get rid of cancer.
- Mental Health: Several studies support the effectiveness of ginger in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and in improving brain health in general. It is rich in antioxidants that lower oxidative stress, and hence, deters the aging process. It has compounds that inhibit the release of chemicals that damage the neurons.
- Diabetes: Gingerol, a compound in ginger, is effective in improving insulin sensitivity. For this reason, it is helpful for regulating sugar in the blood. It does not only reverse diabetes, but it also provides protection to complications that result from high sugar levels in the body.
- Pain: Looking for a natural pain relief? Forget about medicines that contain harsh chemicals that cause adverse effects. Ginger offers the perfect alternative. It is also useful in the treatment of muscle pain that results from an intense exercise, although the impact is not immediate. Historical uses of ginger also involve using it in the treatment of menstrual pain.
- Bone Health: In a research from the University of Miami, ginger proves to be effective in improving bone density and prevention of osteoarthritis. For people who are aging and prone to brittleness, ginger is a promising way to improve the rigidity of bones.
- Detoxification: Sweating in moderation is a good way to get rid of toxins in the body. It helps in cleaning the pores and removing impurities that cause other health problems. Ginger does not only encourage sweating but is also an effective disinfectant.
Aside from its applications in traditional medicine, here are other uses of ginger:
- Cooking: Ginger has a distinct aroma that makes it an attractive choice for savory and flavorful dishes. It is common in Thai, India, Korean, and Chinese food. Ginger is also effective in removing fishy taste in some recipes. Stir-fry and mince dishes also use ginger as a main ingredient. Spiced carrot and sweet potato soup will taste good if you add ginger!
- Baking: Sweet sticky cakes and cookies are some of the best ways to use ginger in baking. It is a perfect complement to the sweetness of cinnamon and vanilla, among other recipes. Use ginger to tame down sweetness to achieve a fuller flavor.
- Beverages: If your tea is boring, add ginger and it will instantly have more flavor. A simple tea will be better by adding ginger, aside from the fact that it is healthy. Infused-vodka and other alcoholic beverages are also traditional ways of using ginger.
- Pickles: In Japan, ginger is popular in sushi. At home, you can also easily prepare pickled ginger. Combine ginger with radish, sugar, and vinegar for an instant delicious pickle. Let it sit for a while to enjoy the optimal flavor of ginger.
- Shampoo: If you are looking for alternative uses of ginger, you can make a natural shampoo out of it. It helps to treat brittleness and hair loss. Rinse your hair properly to get rid of the scent of ginger, which is too pungent for some people.
Planting Ginger at Home
Ginger is one of the easiest spices to plant at home. It takes a while before it grows, but with patience, it is rewarding. It is a low-maintenance root. Even if you do not have a green thumb, it is easy to yield success in growing ginger.
How to Grow
The first step is to find a healthy ginger root to plant. Go to the nearest grocery store or local nursery and look for root. It should be at least four to five inches. It is also good to have a few fingers. The later is where the growth of ginger starts.
After selecting the root, choose the right place to grow it. Ginger grows best in a place that is warm and sunny. For best results, plant the root in early spring or just after the frost season. Growing ginger in a pot is also possible. Just make sure that it is deep enough to give room for the root to grow. A pot with a depth of 12 inches is best.
To plant ginger, cut it first into small pieces using a clean knife. This is good if you want to grow several plants at once. Plant each piece in a healthy soil at a depth of two to four inches. Proper spacing is also necessary. Plant each ginger at eight inches apart from each other. A well-drained soil is best for the healthy growth of the plant. Mix compost in your soil to encourage healthy growth. Ideally, the temperature of the soil should be 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a heat mat to achieve this optimal growing soil temperature. It is also best for the soil to be mildly acidic, preferably with a pH level of 6.1 to 6.5.
How to Harvest
The right timing is critical to enjoying the full flavor of ginger. The best time to harvest is about three to four months after planting. Allow the ginger to mature so that it will end up more flavorful. The roots will start to appear on the surface of the soil when it is time to harvest. Pay attention as well to the changes in the color of the ginger. It turns to cream with pink scales once it matures.
To harvest ginger, use a digging fork. Dig deep until you reach the end of the root. Pull it and take out the foliage. Wash the root and by now, you are ready to use ginger the way you want it. Break it into smaller pieces depending on its particular application.
There are some varieties of ginger that grows a flower on the top. It takes about two years before the flower appears in some varieties. Snip the flower from the top and use it for decorative purposes. Do not be afraid to do this anytime as it will not negatively affect the health of the root.
How to Maintain
Like other plants, it is necessary to take care of ginger to ensure its healthy growth. Luckily, you do not need to do a lot. If you are living in a cold place and if the ginger is in a pot, bring it indoors during the winter season. If you cannot move it indoors, at least cover it with mulch to protect the root from the cold temperature.
Ginger is prone to bacterial and fungal growth. Root-knot nematode is one of the most common. This affects ginger not only while in soil, but also during storage. Burrowing nematodes, bacterial soft rot, bacterial wilt, Chinese rose beetle, and alligator skin are also common problems. To prevent diseases in ginger, provide adequate drainage as stagnant water is one of the most common reasons for the appearance of pests. Remove weeds periodically. Use natural fertilizers to make the soil richer and prevent problems that affect healthy growth of the plant.
Moisture is necessary for the active growth of ginger. The soil should never dry out. Regular watering is a must, but do not overwater. Too much water, especially if it becomes stagnant, will result to root rot.
Ginger is not only aromatic and flavorful. It delivers a wide array of health benefits, making it one of the most popular spices in the world. Whether in cooking or alternative medicine, ginger holds a lot of promise. With this, there is no reason not to plant ginger in the garden today! The good news is that growing ginger does not require too much effort at all!