Fall is finally here and we are beginning to enjoy our first few bursts of cold air coming in from the northwest. For many, this inspires us to prepare dishes with all of our favorite seasonal spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger come to mind. While all of these spices can be grown, did you know that edible ginger, Zingiber officinale, is one of the easiest roots to grow in North Florida?
It is as simple as planting a piece of fresh ginger root, or rhizome, in the spring and keeping the root moist for a few weeks while they sprout. Ginger prefers soil rich with organic matter and partial shade. Therefore, it is often an excellent choice for yards with many trees, as is common among our many oaks and pines. It also has very few pests and can be largely ignored as it grows throughout the year.
During the warm seasons, you will enjoy this perennial’s dark green narrow leaf blades, and although not as showy as ornamental gingers, it will occasionally produce green oblong stalks with white and dark red fragrant flowers. When our cool nights return and the tops die back, it is the signal to dig up the roots, which will have multiplied, and take some in for eating and place some back in the ground for next year’s harvest.
After digging up the rhizomes, allow them to air dry in the shade. To make your ginger root last, place in a sealed bag, and store in your freezer, peeled or unpeeled. You can then take out pieces as you need them throughout the year, and it can easily be grated frozen.
So get ready to make ginger bread, gingersnaps, ginger muffins, ginger ale, ginger-based sauces, ginger spiced soup, and so much more, all with your fresh, spicy, pungent homegrown ginger root!