Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is an easy to grow plant and you can get started by purchasing a "hand" from your local grocery store. Choose a firm fresh hand (not dried out or shriveled) with as many "fingers" as possible. Cut or break each finger from the main root and allow the cut surfaces to dry before planting. Each section with a growing tip will produce a new plant. Ginger roots reach their full flavor in 265 days, so unless you live in an area with warm weather throughout the year you'll need to start your plants in a pot and move them outside into your garden after the soil and air are warm. You can grow Ginger in a large pot all season as long as the pot is at least four times the size of your piece of root. If you plan on moving your Ginger to a garden use a pot at least two times as large in diameter as the length of each root. Fill the pots about three quarters full and place the root on the surface of the soil. Water well and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Keep the soil damp and you will soon see sprouts growing from your roots. When you move your new plants to the garden choose a place with loose rich soil in the shade. Plant the rhizomes near the soil surface as seen in this photo.After three to four months you can begin to trim off small sections to use while letting the rest of the plant grow. To harvest your Ginger roots at the end of the season (before your first frost) pull the entire plant from the ground and allow them to air dry before removing the stalks. The new roots will be rich with flavor.
Ginger is one of the primary herbs of traditional Chinese medicine. It is excellent in stir-fries and other Asian dishes. Ginger has strong antibacterial properties and is effective against food borne pathogens of Shigella, E coli and Salmonella. It is warming to the body and useful for treating colds and flu, as well as upper respiratory infections. Ginger stimulates the immune system, reduces inflammation and promotes sweating, which is helpful in lowering fever. It's expectorant and antihistamine qualities help thin mucus and move it out of the body. Ginger is one of the best anti-nausea herbs for morning or motion sickness and is safe for use with children. It reduces or eliminates diarrhea, so it is very useful in cases of dysentery. It has also been used effectively against malaria.Ginger is also antispasmodic and analgesic. When making a tea from Ginger root it should be infused like leaf or flower teas instead of simmered like most roots are. Rosemary Gladstar recommends a tea of grated Ginger root, lemon and honey. Sounds yummy doesn't it!.