Ginger and Turmeric
There are individual plants you here about throughout history across many different cultures for being more valuable than gold or even having a plethora of benefits. Ginger and turmeric both fall into these categories. Many cultures around the world hold ginger and or turmeric in high regard, and it is definitely understandable why. With all the health benefits associated with ginger or turmeric, it should be ingested as much or as often as possible. These are grown for the rhizomes or underground stem that shoots up vertical leaves. When harvested, these rhizomes can be used as a spice, medicine, food or flavoring.
Ginger and turmeric are native to southern Asia. Both are members of the same family, the Zingiberaceae family. If you are lucky enough to live in a tropical climate, zone 10 or higher than give these a try. When grown here, turmeric and ginger become perennials.
How to grow
Ginger and turmeric do well in sites with loose, well-drained soil, heavy in organic matter. Ample water is necessary. Like other root crops mulching your plants is a must. Doing so helps retain moisture and is one of the tricks for getting an abundant harvest.
Ginger and turmeric can be grown in partial shade, 2-5 hours of sun. When grown in partial shade, the top growth leaves will stay green. For best results and highest yields, plant in full sun. When planted in full sun, the top growth leaves will yellow but do not be alarmed.
Ginger likes nitrogen and calcium fertilizers. Remember these rhizomes are in the ground for over 8 months so be prepared to apply nitrogen fertilizers every 6 weeks. If possible, while growing continuously hill the ginger and turmeric, similar to potatoes. Doing so can help increase yields.
If you don't live in a tropical zone, try starting the rhizomes in a pot so that they can be moved inside if a freeze occurs. Before planting the rhizomes, they must be sprouted, for best results. Sprouting is what helps to initiate root growth. Similar to potatoes, the rhizomes need to have eyes. It is recommended that every piece have two eyes.
To sprout the rhizomes
1. Plant a 1-2” piece in warm soil, 72F - 80F for 4-6 weeks. This is usually between February and April, depending on the growing zone. This will ensure the rhizomes are ready to be planted later in the season.
2. High humidity helps with sprouting. Here is a trick; after placing rhizome in a pot, cover the pot with plastic wrap or saucer. Doing so will help increase humidity.
Depending on where you live, the typical growing season begins in either March or April and is harvested before the first freeze. When harvesting, dig up the rhizomes and separate what you want to collect vs. what will be replanted. Do not be in a rush to harvest the rhizomes. The longer these can remain in the ground, the better. The strength of the flavor or potency continues to develop, the more prolonged the plants stay in the ground. The rhizomes are ready to harvest when the leaves begin to yellow. Use a shovel or a digging fork to harvest. Dig a hole around the base of the top growth wider than the top growth to stop from accidentally damaging the rhizomes during harvest.
After harvesting while outside, remove as much soil from the rhizomes as possible. Afterward, use a hose or something with enough water pressure to help remove any excess dirt. Snap off the shoots from the top and if necessary, use a brush or cloth to clean the remaining soil. You are now ready to dry, freeze, use or store the rhizomes.
I hear stories about people overwintering their ginger or turmeric in the ground. I would not recommend that unless you live in a tropical climate. Harvest when the tops die back and remove the rhizomes. If left in the ground the ginger is susceptible to rotting. If you decide to roll the dice and try to overwinter the rhizomes. Cover the area with a dense layer of mulch to help warm the growing site.
Turmeric companion plants:
Ginger companion plants
● Lemon Grass