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Published on January 14th, 2014 | by Jami Scholl

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How to Grow Ginger (and Tips for Use)

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Whether in a pot or outside in tropical or subtropical climates, ginger thrives with consistent moisture, light shade shutterstock_132106676or bright interior lighting. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an Asian plant used for culinary and medicinal purposes. You can find ginger used in Traditional Chinese medicine and in Ayurveda as well as in cuisine from Thailand, Indonesia, China and beyond.

The ginger roots you find in your local supermarket are really tubers, much like iris, growing mostly on top of the soil.

Although I have grown ginger in smaller pots, they are best grown in pots of at least 16 inches deep and 12 inches wide. An organic ginger tuber found in the produce section of your local grocery is ideal, as the non-organic may have been sprayed with a growth inhibitor. If you’ve no organic option, rinse thoroughly the conventionally grown tuber before planting.

Fill your pot with potting mix, leaving about 4-6 inches from the edge of the pot. Plant 2 inches deep with small nodules, or buds, pointed upwards. When the tubers meet the edge of the pot, green shoots will begin to sprout. The plant will grow to be about 1-2ft in a pot or 2-3 feet in open soil. It will most likely not flower, unless you live in a tropical area.

Ginger likes a rich lightly moist warm soil of about 75 degrees and shade. You may begin to harvest when the plant is about four months old, cutting tubers from the outer edges of the plant. The tubers and roots are often used in Asian cooking or dried and powdered; this is what you may look to purchase when making gingersnaps or ginger bread!

The leaves and stalk can also eaten. Chop finely to more easily disperse the strong flavor, and then add to dishes such as couscous or tabouleh, or as a garnish. These chopped leaves can also be added to soups or stews to add a more delicate ginger flavor. Chicken soup is an example of a dish that benefits from this more mild flavor.

Another use for ginger leaves is to dry them for tea. For me and my family, ginger tea works better than anything else when one of us has an upset stomach or nausea. Ginger tea is an ideal drink for the diabetic with nausea and stomach upset, rather than the common ginger ale and crackers so often served. By adding a bit of lemon and honey, the drink is then one that will benefit someone with a cold and sore throat.

During a conference I once lost my voice, and it was “miraculously” restored after an hour or two (and my throat soothed) by my bed-and-breakfast host serving me this hot drink. The leaves are also claimed to have an antibacterial and antibacterial effects, which may be why I was so quickly restored by two mugs of this drink!

Yet scientific research is inconclusive to the many different medicinal properties that ginger has been claimed to have, including: slowing or preventing cancer growth, as a treatment for arthritis, and for its cholesterol lowering properties. Be aware that ginger can affect some medications and increases the production of bile, important to know for those who have gallstones. It can also cause an allergic reaction, particularly in larger quantities if eating the fresh root or if it is used in it powdered form.

Ginger plant image from Shutterstock; ginger on wood background from Shutterstock



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