I say Stumbled Upon because like a lot of my ideas, it was due to a rapid fire exchange of ideas with a good friend of mine up in the Atlanta suburbs, Craig.
You see Craig and I have been exchanging ideas on what to plant for a while. The Climate there is about the same as I had in Philadelphia, Zone 7a or 7b depending on whether you live on the East or West of Philly.
When I lived there, I would fill my back deck with dozens of pots that would all march their way indoors by Halloween or whenever the first cold snap into the mid 30s would happen.
That would be a low of 2 or 3 C for the Fahrenheit Impaired.
Apparently with Ginger, you don’t have to be so concerned. The plants will die back in colder areas and Zone 8 should be fine – that’s 10F or about -7C. Colder than that and it’s a container plant.
I had mentioned that we were given a pot of Variegated Ginger and wondered if it was the same “stuff” that I use when I stir fry chicken. He said No, but you can grow that stuff from the stores.
We banged it back and forth and the method we put together was this.
- First, get yourself a piece of ginger with a lot of “fingers” on it.
- Select a finger about the length and size of the first joint of your thumb to the length of your thumb.
- Wash all the pieces you wish to plant in Dish Soap thoroughly.
- Don’t bruise the skin while washing the pieces.
- No, you didn’t wash it enough, repeat the wash another two or three times.
- Plant in well drained soil, or a pot, and wait.
- Water periodically and hope that the Squirrels don’t put peanuts in the pot.
The reason why I mention those damn Squirrels is my neighbors feed them raw peanuts. They grab the peanuts and bury them in my pots. I have peanuts growing in about a quarter of the pots I have out back.
It is the same thing with me, I guess. I’m the kind of guy that throws pieces of tomato or fruit that is past its prime in the garden and watches to see if it grows. Win-win, if it doesn’t I get fertilizer for this beach sand we call soil here.
I had actually forgotten that I put those thumbs in the ground in my front garden because when I walked out there one afternoon, I noticed that two ginger plants were mixed in with all the other confusion that I have out front.
Ginger does not seem to mind being crowded in a pot, so you can plant it and grow it “Up North”.
Now, if you live in a zone that is on the edge, like my sister does in Zone 7b Cherry Hill, NJ, you may be able to “get away with it” in the ground. Find a south facing wall of your house. Plant close to the foundation because the sun hitting your walls will warm the soil just a few degrees, and it may be just enough.
Here, 8 miles south of the freezing temp lines, I don’t have to worry at all. But as always, your mileage may vary.
Why would you bother?
My friend Craig got further along than I did with this. Of course you can go to your favorite market and buy ginger root, that’s not the point. The point is that the flavor of absolutely fresh Ginger Root is much more complex than some that has been shipped, treated with anti-growing chemicals, and sitting in the store waiting for you to use it. Any natural product will taste different depending on where it grows. In fact, certain plantings in certain fields in certain farms will yield different results.
Oh and the green parts of the plant? You won’t find those in stores, but Ginger Greens and Stems are edible as well. They can be tough, so you may limit that to tea or used in soups or stirfry but it’s worth a shot. You may find a new favorite. Chop fine until you realize your own way of using them. You will have a lot since the plant grows waist high.
That is called the “Terroir” by the French and is used to describe the effect of the environment on the grapes that go into the wine. Similar effects happen with Coffee where one specific estate on one specific mountain will taste different than the adjacent field because there’s just a tiny difference in the amount of water or sunlight or …
So give it a shot, the worst thing that could happen is that you get a “pretty plant” and a great story to tell the nosy neighbors.