Growing Ginger in Containers or How We Stumbled Upon A Thing

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.

800px-ingwer_2_fcm
Picture from https://en.wikipedia.com/wiki/ginger

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.

I dug them up and then put into a pot, minus the peanut plants, so I could watch over them.

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 …

Well you get the idea. 

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.

Advertisements

Bougainvilleas and Bananas on Thanksgiving

On this week before Thanksgiving, there is a lot of “Prep Work” to do.

The hedges get cut back,

House gets cleaned,

Shed gets cleaned,

Yard gets cleaned,

Well, you get the idea.

I would say this is where the law of unintended consequences happens.

While I don’t have a good definition for it, I can explain it really well in one short phrase:

Never paint your kitchen.

Why?  Because then your cabinets will look shabby.  You then have to replace them.  While your kitchen is gutted, you look at your oven from the last decade and think this would be a good time to do it.  Maybe swap out the electric range for a gas or propane one.  After all, being able to cook indoors is good for emergencies.

You get the idea.

So we got started.  Actually we started a while back before the hurricanes hit South Florida and cleared out the shed.  That gave me the open “16th Puzzle Piece”.

I talk about this often.  There is a game that has 15 square pieces.  Usually has numbers on them.  There is one piece missing, the 16th Puzzle Piece.  You slide the pieces around to get them out of order for someone and then hand it to them to “fix”.  I guess it was a Rubix Cube before there were any.

I often joke that I feel like the 16th Puzzle Piece.

It makes me feel like a banana.  Or this banana leaf, you never know where they will crop up.

Once you have managed to go out to the shed to get that piece you need to fix something that just broke, you notice the yard and the plants and take a pause.

But there is rather a lot to get done.

Also remember, the dog lives here and you don’t.   Different lecture but the tumbleweeds under the AC Intake that the dog left there need to be picked up reminding you that you need to replace the filter bag in the vacuum and no you can’t just pull the old dirt out and dump it into the trash because that bag had that done once already.

It’s a process.

But I will say that if you are reading this and your Turkey is still frozen, you may be out of luck.

I can help but I am not guaranteeing it will work…

Place your wrapped in plastic, frozen, and un-thawed meat (Turkey, Chicken, Beef, it doesn’t matter) into the sink that has been thoroughly cleaned and plugged up.  Fill the sink with tap water.  It does not have to be hot, and it won’t be for long.  Submerge that package of meat/poultry/frozen stuff in the water.   Check back in an hour.

The water will speed your thawing up.  It’s of course at your own risk so make sure it isn’t in there longer than you need it to thaw and it does not spoil.  The good thing is that it is faster and safer than leaving a frozen block of dinner out on the counter overnight.  But you do need to use your own judgement on how long to keep it in the water bath.

At least that one hour will let you vacuum the dog or the cat fur out of the kitchen and maybe even let you scour the bathtub.
Isn’t having guests a pain in the tail?

Speaking of guests and pets – remember don’t let anyone feed traditional Thanksgiving food to the dog.  Raisins, onions, and many of the herbs and spices that are in that feast will sicken or kill your dog outright.  Better to stick with their dog food if there is any doubt.

And no matter how much they beg, no Onions for the dog.

When you’re through with all of that and the meal is done, you can start on the wiring in the backyard.  You really did want to get the low voltage wiring run the 100 feet from the front yard to the shed so you can see inside the thing, didn’t you?

Ok lets just skip it and hit the Chinese restaurant for some Curried Chicken instead!  They’re open, aren’t they?

Ginger Blossom and Frog

Travel.  Broaden Your Horizons.

Bring a camera.

All that.

I don’t actually get into the Jeep often.  15 year old car with only 46,000 miles on it.  So when I do go for a drive, there has to be a reason, and I almost always really enjoy it.  It’s a fun vehicle to drive, and I’ll get there.  You may not, but I will.

The occasion was that I got to visit one of my favorite people, my godmother Kathie.  She’s a prime example of love makes a family.  The godparent tradition came from our childhood, and we both have found different spiritual paths.  But we stayed in touch via her moves to Florida, my much later move, and many years.

Plus she’s great company.

I got a message in my email asking if I wanted to come up and enjoy a lunch in the restaurant.  Sure! Great! When?

When became a rainy trip up.  We’ve had a lot of random smallish rain storms.  Fun.  I’ve got the right car for it.  30 inch rubber donuts, no lifts, it’s a Jeep not a Mudder.  My theory is that 10 mpg is no fun, and while the car is rated 15, I drive gently and get 18 city, 22 Highway.

Not a Prius.  But I don’t fit in a Prius.

After watching people do stupid things on the back roads, and one clown spin out, I got there.

We chatted, I added her printer to her Mac, and we went out to look at the Preserve.  Hurricane Irma took out a few trees, including a Honeybell Orange that I will miss.  But she did point out the Ginger plant.  We’ve got one too that I just planted, so I was interested to see it in bloom.

You know that motto, Always Bring A Camera?

She lifted a fallen leaf to show me the blooms and right there, sitting on the flower was this wee little Frog.

“I need a Picture of that!”

“For Ramblingmoose.com?”
“Of Course!”

So there it is.  We still don’t know if that is an Ornamental or Culinary Ginger, but it is a pretty thing.  The flowers merely smell Floral instead of smelling like a Gingerbread.  That may be what I will get out back by the shed.

The ginger, not the frogs.   Frogs are welcome too.

With an Intelligent Dog, You Get Opinions

I have read that dogs don’t disobey.  They interpret.

You just may not understand how they are interpreting things.

Of course all of that interpretation will change based on where that dog finds himself in a pack.

A dog who is confident will decide that it wants to go for a walk, so it decides it will do so.  Whether it is on its leash or not.

Of course they tend to only do such a thing if they are not getting exercised enough or are deadly bored.

Don’t want your dog to wander off?   Walk him.  Long walks.  Three miles for a dog in a day really isn’t a lot unless you have one of those fussy little things that bark at a leaf moving in the next county or an airplane over head.

That’s your burden.  It still needs a walk.

Beta dogs are a puzzle.  They require careful handling.  After all, they are looking to you for guidance.

Constantly.

Rack is a Beta.  He’s also incredibly intelligent just like any other McNab Dog.  Intelligent breeds are that way.  Anything-Shepard.  Herding Dogs are used for their intelligence because they think.  In a house, they can get bored.   A Beta who is Bored is going to still find things to do and interpret what he thinks the rules are.

Luckily Rack isn’t bored often.  He’s happy to lay down and sleep next to me for most of the day.  My chair that I do most of what ever it is that I actually do is near a window.  I see things that happen, after all it is a busy street.

The other day I saw something go on.  Rack was asleep.  But being a herding dog, it was almost like there was someone whispering in his ear what is going on.

Then I spotted that something.  Could have been anything from the feral ducks to a neighbor getting landscaping to a passer by.

I made the mistake of saying “Oh.”.  Not particularly loudly mind you.  Just a slightly louder than a whisper “Oh.”

Rack had an opinion.  “WOO WOO WOO WOO!”

Standing up, he ran to the front door.  Fur up on his back.  I guess he didn’t like what was going on.

“Damnit Dog, go take a look, there’s nothing out there!”

“WOO! WOO woo grumblegrumble mmm”

The grumbling went on for a bit, then he lay down and go back to sleep.

“Knucklehead”.

I go back to entertaining myself answering emails.  Reading tech websites.  I realize that I have a website that needs attention.  He’s fast asleep and jogging in his sleep.  Alternating between running and wagging his tail.

“Hmm, better log into that site.”
“WOO WOO WOO”  He didn’t like my tone of voice.

“Rack!  Nothings wrong, go look!”

My standard thing is to keep him busy when he’s interpreting what I am going on about.  I won’t tell him to look if there’s a delivery in the area.  That would set him off again.

I get the same cycle of winding down and walking back to his place where he can continue watching me, getting things wrong, sliding into sleep, and wagging his tail.

When he’s not doing dippy things, he’s actually very quiet in the house.  But twice a day…

You see, the UPS truck comes through the neighborhood every afternoon and that would set him off.

Opinions.  Interpretations.  Two Plus Two are Five.

That’s what you get with an intelligent dog.  A Police Officer who worked with dogs once told me “On their best day, they’re still a dog”.  I can see that.  They just don’t always get it right.

But, I can easily tell him to walk around in the front yard to dry off his feet after I wash them at the end of a walk.  Even if his best dog friend the giant Rottweiler named “D.O.G.” is out there.

Yes, D.O.G., and no I don’t know what Double-Oh styled agency that he’s a part of or what it is short for.  It’s just 165 pounds of mostly black love sponge who whines at me from across the street.  And yes, he interprets as well since that whine is him saying come on over I am lonely.

Weirdly, Rack is now comfortable enough with that that he hasn’t taken the Once Around The Car “Walk in the Grass” order as being conditional and up for interpretation, but who knows.

After all, on his best day, he’s still a dog.

Safflower and Milkweed

Why do you want to grow those things again?

Because they’re DIFFERENT!

But they look like weeds, the thorns on the leaves pinch, and then the flowers dry up and …

I said they’re different.  Besides, we’ve got the seeds.  Why not grow weird plants?

I have basil growing in my garden so I can make pizza.  Green onion in pots make so much that even I can’t eat it all.  My Rosemary has grown into a carpet of green.  I have banana plants in a pot that are taller than I am by a solid two feet that I need to break into separate pots for gifts. I can’t give away my spare coleus or mango trees.  There are peanuts growing all over the place…

Yes, PEANUTS!  As in Jimmy Carter’s pride

And the conversation petered off at the end.  People let their artichokes grow all the time and they end up with a big purple poof that looks like the yellow safflower blossoms.

Beauty is where you find it.  No, I mean YOU find it.  I may not agree, so don’t let that hold you back.  Be creative.  Grow what you like, especially if you like it on a pizza.

Gardening here is simple, drop a seed, it grows.  It may grow out of control.  Up North, that hardy Asparagus Fern you grow in your bathroom.  Down here, it is a noxious and invasive weed.  I can’t understand why someone wants all those thorns growing inside their house anyway.

But they like it.  *sigh*

So I’ll grow a few more oil seeds in my garden.  The flower bloomed, and stayed intact. I put the dried flower in a plastic bag, rolled it between my hands, and got more seeds.

You might ask where I get safflower seeds?  We ordered something electronic online.  It showed up saying that it was shipped from Bahrain of all places.

Bahrain?  Don’t they usually sell products in barrels?  Crude Oil?  Safflower oil too I guess.  There has to be a reason why you live where you do for centuries, so enjoy.

I put some seeds in the front garden and watched.  Landscapers came by and raked them up.  I put more seeds down and will “box” them off with old roof tiles.  They are good at figuring that all out.

I hope.

As for the Milkweed, well it was in the pot first.  It made it to the seed pod because the Monarchs never discovered it.  I carpet bombed the neighborhood with milkweed seeds where ever they were left to grow from the last time I did that.  The butterflies will enjoy that,  they’re back already eating the daylights out of what is in my yard.

Now, if I can only figure out how to squeeze inside my hedge so I can plant that variegated hibiscus to fill in some bare spots, I may be getting my flowers back!

Snail on Tree

In the yard, there is a little garden.

The little garden is an island afloat on a sea of grassy green.

In the middle of that island is an old snag of a tree.

I can’t bring myself to cut it down.  It’s old, it’s moth-eaten, and it’s partly dead.  But the parts of that old snag are quite thoroughly alive.

The old snag is a bottle brush tree.  It puts out red flowers that look like a bottle brush from time to time.  So I cut the dead spots off and leave the thing be.  I’m overdue for cutting more dead spots off that tree.  Because of those dead branches, I also have lots of air plants, Tillandsia, growing on the bark.

It is its own little ecosystem.

Spanish Moss, ants, birds.  It’s full of life even if the tree can’t decide what to do.

After a rain, much of that life is forced to the surface.  You can go out there and watch the lizards crawl over it and poach a few insects.  That is their place in life, to keep the pests down.

They don’t seem to mind being watched anyway.

But on the bark this one day was a snail.  They usually are seen stuck to a window or a post or some other vertical object.  When they are there, normally, they are not alive.  In fact it is rare that I see one out in the open like this particular day.

A little piece of Escargot trailing a shell that looks like a fancy chocolate, right there in the open, on my half alive tree.

Sure, I could cut it all down but what is the point.  I already have a palm tree next to it.  I did not plant that palm.  It ‘involuntarily’ grew in my pot in the back yard, and took it over.  Most likely thanks to some errant bird that left the seed when it was getting ready to fly from my Sea Grape tree in the back yard.  I did not weed the palm until I realized it was too late so I cut the pot away from the plant and dragged the root ball to the front yard where I figured I would need it.

The blasted palm tree is now more than 15 feet tall.

So it’s all a nice little family.  Half dead bottle brush tree.  Out sized palm tree.  Some red screw palms and another clump of green ones on the other side.

And the chocolate shelled snail lives there happily as well.

We will just call it a garden, uplight the palm, and call it done.  May as well.  You get some interesting visitors from time to time, you know.

Antique Car at Wilton Manors Fire Department

Every town has its quirks.

Wilton Manors has them too.   Mostly the inhabitants of all sorts, but once in a while you see something that leaves you asking what on earth is going on.

Square in the middle of town there is a restaurant.  There was a restaurant before it in the same spot.  It was a greasy spoon chicken wings joint that moved just out of town.

That’s great if you like that sort of thing.  I can make my own greasy spoon chicken, thank you, and I prefer barbecue or grilled at any rate.  Much better for you, or so they say.

Whoever They are.

As the old building rotted, someone came along and did the typical Screw The System Building Rehab.  Knock down every wall but two, then build a new building around it.   That means it is a rehab, and therefore not new construction, and the laws are less strict.

Not good for those of us around it.

The restaurant that later inhabited the space, to this day, is a sushi place.  All painted in purple.

I’m not a fan of eating raw fish in a Barney colored restaurant blaring bad rock music from twenty years ago, but maybe you do.  I’ll leave you to it.

Squatting there like a big purple carbuncle, it does draw your attention.  It is hardly ever “full” so if you want a meal and they are open go on in.

See, that’s the thing.   Right now, it isn’t open.  It’s closed.  They have a sign taped to the front door that explains that they’re doing some remodeling or some re-menuing of their food.  Bottom line is that it has been even emptier than it had been before.

Maybe they will open again or maybe someone will buy the place and hopefully banish Barney and paint the place a different color under a new format.

I love you,  You love me, Why not have some Broccoli?

As the place has been closed for about 2 or 3 months now, maybe longer, it has collected a few cars.  They were strategically placed to block the parking lot off from someone borrowing it and maybe making it look like it is actually inhabited with say a car club.

Ok, I’ll say a car club.  Because the cars that were left behind aren’t junkers.  I suspect that the city here would have something to say about that.  The cars are almost always what could be considered classics.

This car parked there caught my eye and forced me to think about it.   It’s a somewhat restored 1950s Chevrolet.  In baby blue, it also is Indifferently restored.  The back deck of the car is stained with age.  The paint seemed to have been done badly because it was a bit rough in appearance.

 

And the car had a flat.

Not just a flat, but the wheel itself was ground down leading you to believe that it had been dragged across the pavement to rest where it is over the final few feet.

By a giant purple dinosaur perhaps?  I doubt that, but the love that Barney would give to that car would be to put on the spare tire, I would hope.

1950s cars are rather rare now.  They’ve mostly gone into the hands of collectors.  They generally aren’t used to decorate parking lots with 1980s Corvettes, last century bucket trucks, or some of the other automotive relics that have showed up over the last month.  Always three vehicles, one to block each entry, and that sad semi restored baby blue Chevrolet that was there that day and this morning still.

We saw it that day.  Me, my dog Rack, and a rather nice looking tortoise shell winged Dragonfly balancing on the hibiscus hedge that is well maintained and intended to protect the property from Purple Dinosaurs.

So if you go by, you may be able to witness the worlds slowest car club.  Join the Dragonflies, and the other quirky denizens of this town.

 

You just won’t be able to get sushi, unless you bring your own.

Even better if you bring a purple dinosaur and drive up in an antique car.

 

You have one right?