Ginger

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Zingibar officinalis,(calamus), Z. mioga, Alpinia spp

 

History

The more commonly used root ginger (officinalis, calamus) myoga ginger, and the Galangals (Alpinia spp)  are all members of the Zingiberaceae family. This family also includes wild ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) which in New- Zealand is a noxious weed. All are Subtropical plants requiring warm, frost free and moist environments, preferably with light shade, and rich loamy soils. Can be grown in large pots or a greenhouse in Central Hawke’s Bay if you are prepared to nurture them. The Myoga ginger is a little less fussy, and it is doing well in my unheated greenhouse in Ongaonga.

For both galangal and Ginger root it is the swollen rhizomes that are used. Myoga has a different growth habit and flowers at ground level. It is the young unopened flower buds which are harvested rather like asparagus by slicing off just below the ground.

Growing

Both Ginger root and Galangal can make attractive pot plants. Pieces of root can be planted in good moist compost in spring in a warm (20 Degrees) lightly shaded spot. Roots are usually dug up in Autumn/ early winter. Retain some for replanting. Roots can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few weeks, gently dried for longer storage, or preserved in syrup.

Myoga ginger is grown from small rhizomes as above but the leaves die back in winter. Buds form during late summer / Autumn and will produce more if cut regularly. The buds freeze well in a plastic bag and taken out as required.

Plants of most species grow between 1- 2 metres in height. Flowers are variable in their colour and significance with galangal being the most showy.

Maintenance

Feeding:

All of this family prefer regular moisture and rich loamy soils. feed regularly with compost, and natural fertilisers such as seaweeds, and vermicast particularly if growing in pots. Keep lightly moist but not water logged.

Problems and Pests

Root rots and fungi if soils too wet. Keep sheltered. Below 5 degrees can kill Root ginger and Galangals. Myoga seems to survive as low as 0.

Uses

Greater galanga (Apinia galanga) called Kha in Thailand is great for Tom Yum soup.

Ginger root has been used for thousands of years for soothing and calming the stomach, and preventing nausea.

Both Ginger root and Galangal are used widely in Asian/Indian cuisines

Myoga is more common in Japanese cooking and has a mild ginger flavour with a lovely crunch.