Ginger Adventures

I dug up a few of the Shampoo Gingers and potted them to make a path to the water spigot. I decided to dig around a bit and see what I could find and these nice ginger roots popped out of the ground. When they were first unearthed they really smelled like patchouli, but unfortunately (or not depending on your personal preference), the fragrance has pretty much faded.

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Don’t they look like Imperial Walkers from Star Wars? I hope I have that name right or I’ll look like an idiot instead of a geek.

When I broke one in half, it smelled just like edible ginger. This is not the same variety, but I have read that this ginger is edible, but bitter. So… yeah… I’m gonna pass on a taste test for the moment.

Cross section of Shampoo, or Pinecone, Ginger rhizome (root)

Cross section of Shampoo, or Pinecone, Ginger rhizome (root). Pardon my dirty fingernails.

According to the Seminole County Extension Office:

True ginger can be distinguished by its shorter stalks, which are 2 to 3 feet high; with narrow, flat, pointed leaf blades abut 1 foot long, producing yellow-green flowers with purple tips growing in dense spikes. It produces plump, strongly aromatic rhizomes that are used mainly as food flavoring. True ginger is often confused with related plants grown as ornamentals in Florida, such as the butterfly ginger, shell flower and the pinecone ginger. The roots of all gingers are edible and have varying degrees of hotness, like peppers.

Ginger is started from rhizome (root) cuttings rather than from seed. The tuberous root, called a hand, can be purchased in grocery stores, nurseries or health food stores. In selecting fresh ginger for planting, choose a fat, full hand with well-defined eyes. The eyes resemble those of a potato and are easy to detect. It is best to cut the rhizomes into pieces 1 to 1½ inches long, each containing at least one eye. Cut the rhizome pieces a few days ahead of planting to allow the cut surfaces to dry, reducing chances of rotting. In a well-prepared bed, insert each piece and cover with about 1 inch of soil. Space them 15 inches in the row and 15 inches between the rows. Early in the spring is the best time to plant.

It seems I should wait a few months before digging up any more “hands”.

Harvesting and use: To harvest, dig rhizomes in the fall or when the tops have died down. Tops of the plants will die back 9 to 11 months after planting for a natural dormancy. Allow rhizomes to dry in the shade for about a week.

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