Cold and flu season is coming up and, if you find yourself under the weather, a steaming hot cup of fresh ginger tea might be just the thing to make you feel better. If you love ginger, try growing your own!
Ginger is reputed to have anti-viral properties, is good for settling an upset stomach, and improves circulation. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) definitely has more zing than the pre-ground spice from the store.
We bought some fresh ginger root from the grocery store and broke it up into several pieces. (Actually it is a rhizome, not a root!) Each piece had at least one eye—a bump or bud from which the plant will grow.
Our buds actually had some green showing so I took that as a good sign. If your rhizomes look dry and puckery you can soak them overnight in lukewarm water before planting but ours was plump and looked ready to grow.
Sometimes ginger has been treated not to sprout so it might be worth buying an organically grown rhizome.
We used a shallow, wide plastic pot to give the pieces room and planted them in a compost-based potting soil, eyes up, barely covering the rhizomes. We put the pot in a warm location out of direct sunlight and watered just often enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Since our buds were green and ready to grow, they sent out new shoots in about a week but it can take up to 3-4 weeks for greenery to show so don't give up.
The stalks can get tall, about 2-4 feet if happy and may even flower, but that is rare. Common ginger flowers are not as showy as ornamental ginger.
In hot southern climes, it likes filtered sun and protection from the wind.
I put the plant outside in half day sun for the summer and brought it back inside when the temps started to fall below 50 degrees. Native to the tropics, it grows best when the soil is in the 70's.
You can actually begin harvesting small amounts of ginger from your plants after about 4 months by cutting off pieces of the root from the outside edges of the pot. Cover the cut end with soil and leave the main portion of the plant to continue growing. For the best flavor, let your plants grow until they naturally begin to die down. Then you can dig up the whole thing, take the pieces you want to use, and replant a few to begin growth all over again. Some people store the rhizomes they want to replant until spring but I like to keep the whole thing going over the winter. The plants do have a natural dormant period when temps go below 50 but even though some stalks of mine have died down other new green ones have sprung up. This is the easiest houseplant I own and it gives me an edible root to enjoy!
Make some tea.
Just steep a few slices of fresh ginger in hot water. Add lemon and honey if you want.