Last July I attended the Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference in Kissimmee Florida. One of the many brochures I took home was for East Branch Ginger, an organic Hawaiian source for ginger, galangal and turmeric seed. I remember walking through the convention hall browsing the usual farm conference exhibitors and the East Branch Ginger booth looked interesting, fresh and welcoming. They had a table full of gorgeous baby ginger, their printed material was very easy to follow and their prices seemed realistic. The woman standing behind the table was well informed and able to answer everyones questions. I took a brochure home and tucked it away, knowing I’d been wanting to grow a good ginger crop, but needed to wait until the Spring of 2012.
I’ve grown a little ginger in the past using store bought root cuttings, but every time I tried to sprout a batch, 8 out of 10 would rot. As I’ve been doing some research, mostly through the East Branch website, it turns out using store bought ginger seed is a bad idea. One of the main reasons they give is, “Store bought ginger can be infected with disease (perfectly fine to eat!) making them less than ideal to plant for seed. The three common diseases are bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum), Fusarium and Root Knot Nematode. It is not worth the gamble planting store bought ginger and inoculating your soil with any or all of these three diseases. Again, this ginger is fine for consumption but makes poor quality seed stock. Without genetic testing, there is no way to tell exactly which variety of ginger you are getting in the store – when you order seed pieces from East Branch Ginger you know which varieties you’re getting… the best!”. Another important factor, which is probably why my attempts were rotting rather than sprouting, is that store bought ginger may have been stored at temperatures below 55 F, which will kill it.
A few weeks ago I did a little brainstorming about new crops I want to try this year and naturally ginger was at the top of the list. I placed my order with East Branch in February, just barely making the deadline, and received my shipment yesterday morning.
I’ve had a spot on reserve for my ginger crop, where I’ve been adding lots of compost and pruning back the passion vine which will provide shade. Ginger and galangal both thrive in full to part shade, are heavy feeders and need good tilth to develop rhizomes. I will be adding compost as well as cotton seed meal and kelp to this crop every 4-6 weeks once they begin growing.
This is called Hawaiian Yellow ginger and they describe the variety as, “Its flavor is more potent and complex, and the the flesh is more dense and less fibrous than that of white ginger. Therefore less ginger can be used in a recipe for that ginger kick. At maturity, yellow ginger is absolutely gorgeous with stunning yellow flesh. At the baby stage (4-6 months) this ginger still has pink budscales, like white ginger (Ruhi and Big Kahuna) and the flesh color has yellow nudertones, not cream colored. Very pretty!’