Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A Bit of theTropics
Spring is in the air, but the weather's still too iffy here to do a lot of outside planting. Via Scribbit, last week I found a post on Tropical Permaculture about growing ginger root. I decided to try it.
Want to know an interesting fact? Although everyone calls it ginger root, the name isn't technically correct. Ginger grows from rhizomes, or horizontal underground stems. However, I'm not about to go against tradition, so ginger root it is.
You can grow a plant using store bought ginger root, so yesterday I went to a local supermarket and bought two nice looking pieces with well developed "eyes"--the growth buds that look like little horns at the end of the piece. Even though the per-pound price of ginger root always makes me wince, it takes a lot of root to actually make a pound. My tab was under a dollar.
Ginger is a tropical plant that likes warm weather and humidity. Our cold winters would kill it, so I'm starting it in a pot that can go out on the deck with the other houseplants when the weather warms up. By July, the St. Louis weather makes it feel like the tropics, so it should do well.
After soaking the pieces in water overnight it was time to plant it today.I have a motley collection of pots in the garage; it didn't take long to find one that looked like a good size. The plant does best in rich soil, so I wanted to mix potting soil with a bit of compost from the bin. However, I had to do a bit of work first.
Around here the compost pile freezes during the winter, making turning impossible, so we've just been throwing things on top for the past few months. The surface was covered with an even, deep layer of coffee filters and grounds, orange, grapefruit, and banana peels, and random plant debris. I completed the first ceremonial turning of the bin for the year, then scooped out some compost and mixed it with potting soil from a bag in the garage. I got a bit distracted; while I had the shovel out, I dug up a couple patches of wild onions, then walked around the house and excavated several dandelions.
After I got done ADHDing, I broke the ginger into several pieces and buried them about two inches into the soil, watered the whole thing well, and set it on the window seat in the kitchen in between the philodendron plant and schefflera tree. They'll all go outside when the weather gets warm.
In the tropics the plant dies back as the weather cools down, and the ginger is ready for harvest. However, it takes eight to ten months to get to that point, so I don't think I'll be harvesting any. It will be more of a wonderful (I hope) ornamental specimen.