Ginger is an awesome addition to your plate, drink, garden and wellness kit! It is a simple plant that you can grow and use from your own backyard. And it is one ingredient in my favorite winter wellness tonic! In this post, we’ll talk about growing, harvesting and using ginger on its own but file this one away and get planting because after the next few posts you’ll have what you need to create your own winter wellness drink just in time for winter illnesses.
How To Grow Ginger
Ginger grows well outside in zones 7-10 and, in zones 6 and lower, you can grow it in containers so you can bring it in during the colder months. To grow ginger you’ll want to start with a root, you can go searching online for ginger root or you can simply pop over to the grocery store and grab one from there.
Ginger grows best in part to full shade and prefers loose, rich soil so make sure you’ve added plenty of compost or aged manure where you’ll be planting your ginger. Start your ginger in early spring, after any chance of frost has passed. It will take 10 months to reach full maturity.
To plant your root, take the ginger root and break off a section that is at least 1-2 inches long and has a bud on it. Let the pieces dry for a day or two to prevent root rot.
Take your dried root and place it no deeper than one inch into your soil. Water it well. After a week or two, you’ll see the leaves begin to show. Once you see the leaves, reduce how often you water but water it well when you water. The leaves will grow to be up to 4 ft tall. You may see the root peek out from the soil as the ginger grows, this is common and completely ok. If you have planted your ginger in a pot, bring it in when it gets cooler than 50 F at night.
It may take ginger 10 months to reach full maturity but you can start harvesting it by four months. Don’t harvest large amounts if harvesting early, but you can sneak a piece or two. If you are growing in the ground you should harvest your ginger late in the season, before your first freeze, when the leaves are yellow and the stems fall.
To harvest ginger, dig it up using a garden fork and your hands. Rinse it off and break it into smaller pieces if you would like. Let the ginger air dry for a little bit before storing. To save some for next growing season set some back in temperatures above 55 degrees until next year.
You can store your fresh ginger, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag in the fridge, or the freezer for longer storage. Don’t peel it until you are ready to use it.
If you want to preserve your ginger for a longer amount of time you can dry the ginger. Ginger is dried the same way most roots are. You can dry it in an oven or a dehydrator. Peel and slice your ginger and lay it out on an oven-safe tray or your dehydrator tray. If drying in an oven, do it at 150 degrees or lower. If your oven doesn’t go that low then you can crack the door and keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn. The oven should take about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check your ginger about every 15 minutes while in the oven. Dehydrate on a low temperature as well. The dehydrator time will vary.
However, if you decide to dry your ginger, make sure it is fully dry before storing. After you have dried the ginger you can store it in an airtight container or you can powder it. You can easily powder your ginger with a good quality herb or coffee grinder. Just pop the slices in and grind away. Store in an airtight container. You can even throw the powder in the freezer to keep it longer.
When you are looking to buy ginger you will have many options. If you want to take ginger for your health your best bet is to grow and use your own or buy it from a trusted source. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to trust that the supplements you buy at box stores are actually what they say they are. That is ok, buying and using your own ginger is very easy. You can grab a nice, firm, smooth root from a grocery store or the farmers market and start your own crop. Or if you trust the ginger you are purchasing you can slice and dry that. You can easily find powdered ginger in the spice aisle and you can find it off of trusted herb stores online. Buying ginger is very easy and it is one you are going to want to have on hand!
Culinary Uses For Ginger
Ginger is a wonderful spice to have in the kitchen. It goes well with everything from seafood to chicken. It is fantastic with pumpkin and apples. Ginger is an important spice if you are making your own chai tea and if any of you have joined the Trim Healthy Mama bandwagon it is a staple ingredient in their Good Girl Moonshine (a drink I can’t get enough of.) I like ginger in small doses. I once bought some granola with candied ginger in it and it was just too much for me, my mom, however, can’t get enough of it. To each his own.
Check out some of our other posts on using ginger:
- How To Make Ginger Infused Sugar
- How to Make Homemade Ginger Ale
- How To Brew Alcoholic Ginger Beer The Easy Way
Healing With Ginger
Ginger is a fantastic healing herb. Some folks may just enjoy a ginger tea but this tea has some powerful healing properties. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that are known to help with the pain of arthritis. Ginger is also immune boosting and wonderful for combating nausea and loss of appetite. If you are feeling nauseous from pregnancy, motion sickness or cancer treatments, chewing on ginger or drinking ginger tea can help stop nausea. Ginger is a diaphoretic which means it can stimulate sweating, this can be useful when fighting off the cold and flu. Ginger is also a good source of vitamins and minerals including Iron, Vitamin C, and Potassium. Ginger is recognized as generally safe, you should consult your healthcare provider when taking it with blood thinners.