January 2015 Archives

Growing Ginger

By Mary Frucelli


I heard you can grow your own ginger from a piece of supermarket ginger so I decided to give it a try. When purchasing ginger you need to look for a piece that has fresh buds on it. Sometimes you have to look through the entire pile of ginger to find fresh pieces. Don't choose a piece that looks old and dried up or you will not have success.

Next, bury the piece of ginger buds facing up, in a pot filled with good quality potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist and get ready to be patient. It will take quite a few weeks for the ginger plant to pop up out of the soil. After planting, I placed my pot in a south facing window where it would get some sun. Once the plant was growing I moved the pot to my garden where it would get sun most of the day. Over the summer months my ginger plant has grown into a nice plant about two feet tall and it appears to be multiplying.

Since ginger is an Asian tropical plant it will need to be moved inside when the weather gets cold, probably below 50 degrees. Ginger can go dormant in the cold weather depending on the variety you have. It would be best to just water the plant a little during the colder months until you determine if your variety will continue to grow in the winter or if it wants to go dormant. You can harvest your ginger at this point, start new plants, and use some of it for recipes.

There are many ways to use fresh ginger. Ginger can be used raw in hot or cold beverages and smoothies or sautéed in stir-frys or used in cooked dishes. One way to use ginger is to drop a few slices in a cup of hot water and add some lemon and honey. The longer you leave the ginger pieces in the water the stronger it will be. It is a wonderful drink to aid digestion and satisfy your craving for a spicy hot drink in the colder weather. It will also make you feel better if you have a cold or are not feeling well. In warmer months I add fresh ginger slices to my water bottle. It adds a slight ginger flavor to my water and the result is a very refreshing drink. Ginger also adds a wonderful flavor to salad dressings and marinades for grilling meats and vegetables.

Your health can really benefit from drinking or eating ginger. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can boost your immune system. You can store unpeeled ginger in your refrigerator for a few weeks and it can be kept in your freezer up to 6 months. If you like the flavor of ginger I would recommend growing it yourself. You can easily grow an attractive plant and keep a supply of ginger growing for whenever you would like to use it.

Expert Tips: Gardening Made Simple

By Diana Mackie

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With all that you juggle during the week, it might seem impossible to add "manage a vegetable garden" to the list. However, if you follow these efficient tips and tricks from the gardening pros at Hometalk.com, you'll find that you can easily incorporate gardening into your normal routine.

Location is key when it comes to ensuring follow-through with your garden. It will be most effective to place your garden as close to your back door as you can manage. Ideally, the garden's location will also be in clear view of a window or door you often use, like the kitchen sink window or the door you let the dogs out from. With such clear visual reminders, it will be easier to remember to water the garden, or move it into the sun.

It's also quite wise to start out with a modest garden - just to get your sea legs.

My favorite way to start gardening is to use a small, moveable, container garden. You can reuse an old crate or wine bottle box. Even if you are unsure of where the best sun spots are at first, Hometalk expert Anne of The Micro Gardener recommends "rotating your container garden on a portable trolley to where it gets more sun during the day."

To cut down on the time spent watering and checking the soil, layer your crate garden in the following order, drill 4-5 holes at the bottom, layer with rocks, straw/hay/ then soil mixed with composite. The straw will help the soil remain moist.

To reduce the time you spend weeding, cover the top most layer of your box garden with mulch. "Mulching over bare soil and around your plants can nearly eliminate most of your weeds right from the start," says popular Hometalk gardener Jim, from Old World Gardens Farms.

For overall ease of gardening, you should begin with hardy, low maintenance vegetable plants like tomatoes, peppers, onions, chard, basil, and bush beans.

"I recommend easy-to-grow veggies. Lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes can grow almost anywhere," explains Leslie of The Seasoned Homemaker, also a well-known Hometalk gardener.

If you begin from seeds, give them a hearty soaking with damp paper towels before planting them.

Tip: Save your seed packets to refer back to for watering instructions, and to remember what variety worked or didn't work.

With these tips, gardening can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle and your family will benefit from healthier and tastier vegetables!

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