The Ginger Diaries (2) – an update
Nearly six long weeks have gone by since planting some ginger roots. During the first weeks nothing seemed to happen. I was getting very disappointed and had given up on growing ginger as a complete failure. At least, as far as trying to grow it from ginger root bought at the supermarket was concerned. I thought that possibly even the organic ginger had been sprayed with some growth inhibitor, as the experts had warned. Or that maybe the ginger sold as organic wasn’t organic after all.
Then about two and a half weeks ago, I decided to have another look and to my delight there was a short green shoot coming out. A few days later, another little green shoot started showing. By now leaves are opening on both shoots.
I guess I had just been getting too impatient. Plants have their own schedule, and I just will have to accept that.
I’ve decided to give the ginger some company. I have a cardamom plant, up to now growing in a pot. It was a birthday present, bought from the Growing Friends’ Nursery Plant Sales at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney about 17 months ago. Although it suffered a bit, when it was left to fight for itself during an overseas trip last year, it has recovered well and has grown a lot.
Both ginger (Zingiber officinale) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) belong to the Zingiberaceae family. Zingiberaceae is a very large family of 52 genera and approx. 1100 species. They mostly grow in a tropical climate, but some can be found in a temperate climate. All have thickened rhizomes, an underground stem. In ginger this is the root we eat.
Ginger is only known from cultivation, its wild origins are unknown. It has been used for a long time as a spice as well as a medicinal plant. It has been said that it gives relief from arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches and pains, catarrh, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, sore throats, diarrhea, colic, cramps, indigestion, loss of appetite, motion sickness, fever, flu, chills, and infectious disease. Used in Asia for thousands of years, ginger was first imported into Europe in the tenth century.
While cardamom also has rhizomes, it is the seeds which are used in cooking and medicine. Cardamom has for a long time been used to treat complaints including digestive problems, asthma, bronchitis, kidney stones, anorexia and debility. It has been approved in Germany for the treatment of dyspepsia. Cardamom needs a tropical climate to flower and produce seeds, which I can’t offer my plant. However, the leaves also have a faint cardamom aroma and can be added to tea and juices.
Now we just need some good rain to make the soil really moist, Then I can plant at least some of the rhizomes of the cardamom plant into a bed next to the ginger. Both should be happy to spend some time with a relative.
Christman, S., ‘Elettaria cardamomum’, Floridata Plant Encyclopedia (last updated 25 Jan. 2004). URL: http://www.floridata.com/Plants/Zingiberaceae/Elettaria%20cardamomum/748 [last accessed 16 Feb. 2016)
Skinner, D., ‘Zingiber officinale’, Floridata Plant Encyclopedia (last updated 5 Nov. 2003). URL: http://www.floridata.com/Plants/Zingiberaceae/Zingiber%20officinale/861 [last accessed 16 Feb. 2016)
Wohlmuth, H., ‘Phytochemistry and pharmacology of plants from the ginger family, Zingiberaceae’, PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW (2008)