One of the world’s most potent disease-fighting spices, ginger, is easy to grow and comes in a variety of over a thousand different species. Medicinal ginger most often used is Zingiber officinale.
The Real Food Channel reminds us, “Pharmaceutical companies would have you believe that their expensive and potentially toxic medications are the way to treat nausea, cold and flu symptoms, migraines, and other illnesses.” But, Ken McCarthy asks, “What if a common food, easily available and inexpensive, could treat all of these conditions and more?”
In the video below, Dr Akilah El presents “The Health Benefits of Ginger,” which has been used for over 5,000 years as a natural remedy for a host of ailments, including:
- Relieves nausea;
- Eases arthritis;
- Aides digestion;
- Reduces respiratory problems;
- Prevents motion sickness;
- Fights ovarian cancer;
- Lowers cholesterol;
- Prevents migraines;
- Prevents blood clots; and
- Treats cold and flu symptoms.
And, it’s easy to grow indoors or out. Ginger loves it hot, humid and shady. Think of its natural environment – it’s an understory forb in lowland tropical forests. That landscape is soggy and well drained. In a pot, the soil should be damp and well drained.
Different species can grow from 3-15 feet in height and about 3 ft. wide. While its flowers are exotic, it is the underground stem, the rhizome, that packs the medicinal and flavorful punch.
Herb Gardens advises that you select “a plump, smooth-skinned ginger root” for planting. If it’s skinny and shriveled, “the root has been stored too long and has become old.”
Sara Elliot at The Herb Gardener recommends that you use “large root pieces that are shiny and chubby and have little nubs or horns on them. These are the sections that will sprout.”
Soak it for a few hours and lay it on the soil, then just cover it with more soil. Some folks will add worm castings or other organically rich material to the mixture. Most importantly, the soil must remain moist and drain well. The best soil pH for ginger is slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 6.8.
Keep it at or above 75 ºF (24 ºC) and 70-90% relative humidity (RH).
It’ll take several months for your plant to reach its full height. Depending on conditions, that can be between 4 and 10 months.
In cold climes, bring the pot indoors. “Allow the foliage to yellow and fade; then trim it off,” says Elliot. “Moisten the soil once a month to keep the roots viable. In the spring, after all threat of frost has passed, place the pot in a warm shady spot and watch for a new set of shoots. Repot plants in Spring every couple of years.”
You can begin harvesting it when you see little nubs at the soil line. Cut off the portions at the edge of the pot, rather than near the center.
Then, like the above video recommends, make your tea or spice your meals with it.
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Rady Ananda is the creator of Food Freedom News and COTO Report, Rady Ananda’s work has appeared in several online and print publications, including four books. With a B.S. in Natural Resources from Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture, Rady tweets @geobear7 and @RadysRant.