The cultivation of officinal ginger, what we commonly find on the market, is not difficult, provided that tropical climate conditions are guaranteed in every season.
We point out that another species, the zingiber mioga, is more affordable for everyone, being much more rustic. It is an interesting plant for its food uses, but also for the beauty of the leaves and flowers.
Cultivation of officinal ginger
As tropical it requires warm climates and high humidity: we can reproduce these conditions by growing them in pots.
Climate, exposure, irrigation
To achieve a good development we will have to guarantee extremely bright exposure. Direct light is well tolerated, but it is better to limit it to the morning hours, especially in summer.
Ginger is not absolutely rustic: vegetative growth stops as soon as it falls below 20 ° C and below 18 ° C the first damage occurs. Ideally we will always have to stay between 20 and 25 ° C. It is also very important to guarantee a good level of environmental humidity by vaporizing the leaves or using special electrical appliances.
We frequent, but we absolutely avoid leaving the soil wet for long.
Where to keep the ginger plant
The ginger plant can be kept indoors all year round, in a room that is always heated and with large windows facing south. From June to the beginning of September it is possible to take it outside, even in direct sunlight (gradually exposing it), but always guaranteeing high humidity.
Container and substrate
Its root is a rhizome that develops mostly horizontally. To avoid intervening too often with divisions and obtaining large portions, we recommend choosing a bowl container, at least 40 cm wide and about 35 cm deep.
The substrate must be rich, but also guarantee a perfect drainage: we can get it by mixing leaf soil (or for acidophilic) and river sand in equal parts, then adding a bit of flour manure. It is very important to create a thick layer of clay beads on the bottom.
How to get a ginger seedling?
Plants can be obtained from a fresh root purchased. We recommend choosing an organic product: they are not normally treated with germinating agents. We can start at any time of year, even the ideal one goes from the end of winter to mid-spring.
We place our rhizome "suspended" on a container (we can pierce it with long toothpicks); fill it with water so that it reaches about half the root. We bring in a bright area and replace the water every 2 days. In a short time vertical radicles are emitted: we can then move in the pot with the soil.
Pests and diseases
It is quite resistant, but in interiors it can be attacked by the cochineal: at the first signs of infestation we intervene removing the insects, helping us with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol.
When grown in the right conditions, ginger grows quite fast. Harvesting can already take place 8-10 months after planting. To be sure that it is the right moment we wait for the leaves and stems to be completely yellowed. We can then extract everything, inserting only one portion in the jar for the following year.
Those who love the most delicate flavors can choose to harvest the roots early, already 6 months after planting (around August-September). The spicy notes will be attenuated in favor of the citrus and fresh ones.
How to keep fresh roots?
The maximum flavor and medicinal virtues are in the first month of harvest. The fresh roots can be kept in the fridge for about a month: always check, before consumption, that there are no rots (in this case we carefully remove the part). We recommend placing them in a glass jar together with kitchen paper (which will absorb excessive moisture). We avoid the vegetable compartment instead.
If we want to take advantage of our roots longer (about 6 months) it is good to use freezing. We therefore recommend cutting it into small pieces and placing it in closed bags, from which we will have removed the air as much as possible. Even better is the freezing inside vacuum bags.
At the time of use it is good to grate the root still frozen and immediately place in the freezer how much remains. Once defrosted, in fact, it will be too soft to be used further.
The cultivation of ginger: How to dry ginger
A good alternative is drying: keep in mind however that the citrus and fruity notes will be lost, while the spicy note will be concentrated. We recommend cutting the roots into thin slices and placing them in a ventilated oven at about 60 ° C, until they are completely dehydrated. Alternatively, the appropriate drying equipment is excellent. At the end we will be able to pulverize with a grinder and keep for a long time in an airtight jar, in the dark and in a cool place.