After planting my chinese water chestnut, I began thinking of what other plants I could add to my edible landscape that could be used in similar dishes. We are already growing two varieties of bamboo that have edible shoots. This made me think of Ginger.
Z. officinale or true ginger is the rhizome or ginger root that you often see in asian markets and at the grocery store. It is most commonly used in asian cooking. It is wonderful in tea or as ginger bread cookies, ginger snaps or candied ginger. My mother has always said it is good for settling an upset stomach.
Ginger is easy to grow and makes an attractive potted plant. It needs a long, warm, humid summer and rich moist, well drained soil. It makes an attractive potted plant that will grow 3-4 feet tall. In the past, I have grown ginger in a large pot. It is far easier for me to harvest the rhizome at the end of the season. I just tip the pot over and wash off the roots...no digging!
The great thing about ginger is that you can purchase it from your local grocery and plant the rhizome to grow your own plant. To get as many plants as possible cut or break the fingers off of the main root. Each finger with an eye or growing tip will produce a new plant. Planting is similar to potatoes as you let the cut or broken sections dry before you "plant" in moist soil. Find a pot that is at least three to four times the size of your ginger root and fill it with soil. Then lay your ginger root on top. Place in a warm spot out of the direct sunlight and keep soil moist. The root should produce shoots shortly. GInger prefers bright light but not hot sun. In tropical regions the plants are grown for 9 months before the rhizomes are harvested. It can be harvested as soon as 5 or 6 months, but for the largest rhizome quantity it is best to wait a full 9 months. When you harvest, discard the "original" rhizome used for planting. Be sure to save some of the new rhizomes for planting for the next season. Ginger can be started indoors from these saved rhizomes for the next year's harvest.
Today, I looked at my local grocery store for a ginger root to plant. Unfortunately my local store had ginger but it was old and somewhat dried up. I will check again next week and add pictures to this article of my new ginger plant as it grows.