Growing Ginger in Northeast Florida Herb Gardens
Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale For Northeast Florida Origins and Uses:
Ginger is one of the easiest plants to grow in Florida as it loves heat and humidity!Native to Tropical Asia, edible ginger is a herbaceous perennial plant with edible rhizomes (thick underground stems) and narrow strap-like green leaves on tall 3-4 ft stalks. Flowers on edible gingers are rarely seen but are light green to yellow in color and resemble an orchid flower.
Ginger root has many uses in the kitchen, the sweet spicy taste is responsible for the spice in ginger bread and ginger snap cookies. The rhizome portion of the plant is harvested and sliced to be fried, pickled or smashed for use in stir fry, curry dishes, Jamaican Jerk paste, as a sushi topping, or added to carbonated water to make the much loved Ginger Ale. It is said that ginger was used to make a Ginger Beer as far back as the middle ages! Ginger can also be dried and incorporated into dishes as a powdered flavoring agent.
Medicinally ginger is used as a Dramamine replacement, to help alleviate nausea. Great choice if you like deep sea fishing, and works great on an upset stomach. Ginger can also be used to treat morning sickness in Pregnancy with no chemical side effects from prescription medications. Other uses of Ginger include, relief from arthritis, muscle aches and pains, congestion, coughs, colds and flu, indigestion, loss of appetite, and many more.
Growing Season for Northeast Florida Edible Ginger Root:
Ginger grows year round in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden. It is best to plant your Ginger ‘seed pieces’ in early spring for harvest in the fall. Ginger foliage will be dormant during the winter season, but the unused Rhizomes can be left in ground for next years crop or dug and divided to increase your stock.
Sun Exposure for Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale in Northeast Florida:
Plant Ginger in full shade or gently filtered sun locations. Full sun is not recommended as it will burn the leaves.
Soil Preference for Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area:
Moist, but well draining soils. Ginger is not particular about the soil components, but when growing in sandy soils make sure to add in generous portions of compost, leaf mold or manure to help keep soil moisture levels high.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale :
Ginger likes moist soils, so be sure to water daily when first planting your ginger rhizome and at least twice a week after that.
Fertilize with a mixture of Milorganite and a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote or Staygreen each spring when planting your ‘seed pieces’
If you would like to use all organic, fertilize with Milorganite heavily and then add a liquid mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed once every two weeks, or as needed, sprayed onto the plants foliage. I find that with Ginger, using just the Milorganite once in spring and again in summer, is more than sufficient to keep my ginger plants growing and healthy in my well composted soil beds.
If you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.
Size of Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale When Mature:
Edible Ginger plants will grow to 3-4 ft tall and 2-3 feet wide, but can be planted as close as 12-15 inches in rows when harvesting annually.
Sowing and Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:
Edible ginger is a sterile plant and rarely produces flowers, propagation is done from divisions of the root or fleshy rhizome buried underground, similar to how you would grow a potato. The root is dug and divided into sections each spring, then planted as ‘seed pieces’ back into the soil where it will grow and produce more rhizomes for use by summer. Roots can be dug up and stored for the next seasons growth in more cold sensative climates than ours, , or left in ground for next seasons ginger root crop here in Norhteast Florida.
Dig and divide the rhizome into two inch or larger pieces. Make sure that each section has at least two sprouts or ‘eyes’. Let the cut pieces air dry for a few days. Then plant the pieces with the ‘eyes’ facing upward about an inch or two deep into the soil. Water daily until new leaves have emerged and at least twice a week after that.
Harvesting Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
Ginger root can be harvested any time during the growing season by digging at the edge of the foliage of the plant and removing a portion of the fleshy root known as the rhizome. Entire plants can be harvested in fall from a spring planting, unused portions can be divided for next years crop.
Blooms of Edible Ginger Root / Zingiber officinale for the Northeast Florida Garden:
Flowers are rarely seen on Edible Ginger plants, but when they do emerge, they emerge on a separate stalk from the foliage and are a light greenish yellow orchid-like blossoms.