Ginger RootAfter 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 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.


Chinese Water Chestnut

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Published in Edible landscaping

This week I ordered online a chinese water chestnut plant. The chinese water chestnut belongs to the family of grass-like pond or wetland plants; Cyperaceae. In asia it is cultivated in the same way as paddy rice. I think it will be a wonderful addition to the yardsteads edible garden. The corm, which resembles a bulb grows underground and is the part of the plant that is harvested and most often eaten in asian stir-fry. This should be an excellent addition to the edible bamboo plants we already have planted on our property.

In the U.S. chinese water chestnut is most often imported in cans but is sometimes imported frozen. The largest source of imports come from China, followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the late 1980's, researchers from the University of Florida studied the chinese water chestnut as a possible plant for production in Florida. A single plant can yield 5 lbs or .......


Cold Tolerant Fruit Trees

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Published in Edible landscaping

We love trees here at The Yardstead.  We have added several trees to our landscape over the last several years.  In keeping with our policy of Edible Landscaping, most of the recent additions have been fruit trees.  Although we are located in north Florida, we still have to consider the cold hardiness of trees and all the plants we plan to cultivate.  We have had several frosts this year including a 2 day stretch where the temperature was below freezing for four to five hours each night.  Frosts are not uncommon in January and February around here, but by noon the temperature is usually back up around 50F at least.  Considering the dozen or so frosts we have had this year, maybe 4 or 5 of the days saw freezing or below temps for 4 hours or more.  It was cold enough however to damage several of our young citrus trees.  
The lemon tree seen here on the left appears to have survived the best out of all our citrus trees.  I believe this is a Myers Lemon.  It was started from a seed left over after my wife sliced up a lemon grown on a local tree known to be at least 30 years old.  It is three years old and has never produced fruit.  It suffered a little frost damage last year also and I pruned it back a bit to much.  It lost some leaves this year and some parts of the branches have turned brown, but I will wait until after the spring to prune it this time.  By then I should be able to tell better what is actually dead. I believe the older (year or longer) branches have a better chance of growing fruit, so I want to prune them as little as possible.  This is something that I need to look up about pruning citrus.
Most of our other citrus trees....