By Ruvimbo Jeche
Ginger is yet another herb to invest in. It is an easy-to-grow and nutrient-filled herb with beneficial nutrients for the body and brains. Scientifically known as Zingiber Offinicale, it has numerous health benefits. It is ideal for dealing with infirmities such as coughs, bronchitis, nervous exhaustion, many forms of nausea especially morning sickness, muscle soreness, heartburn and colic and intestinal gas. Ginger rhizome is the source of the most important ginger products which are dried rhizome, whole or ground as spice with ginger oil and oleoresins used as flavorings.
Basically we eat the rhizomes at the bottom of the plant. A rhizome is a horizontal stem that grows below the soil and has roots. So in theory we are not eating the root but the stem. It is best to plant ginger late spring when the soil has started to heat up and then harvest it in winter (it takes 9 months for ginger to reach maturity). A well-distributed yearly rainfall of 2500-3000mm is the optimum with a minimum rainfall of 1500mm. The crop flourishes under warm sunny conditions but day temperatures above 30°C can cause leaf scorching while temperatures above 37°C without humidity and water can result in plant death. Ground temperatures of 25-30°C are optimum for initial rhizome growth. Frost will kill the foliage and rhizomes near the surface. Altitude is not a constraint to ginger production.
Essentially, one should plant the rhizomes 20cm apart, cover the rhizome with 2cm of soil, water them well and also mulch them so as to preserve moisture. Once the shoot appears, water the plant twice weekly and make sure you add compost every 2 weeks. If you want to plant them in a container, make sure it is 30cm deep. Planting ginger in the same spot year after year will use up one set of nutrients in the soil and increase fungal and nematode population. Every other season, plant a different crop such as legumes, in your field to restore the depleted nutrients.
Despite all the labor and hustles in ginger production, its profits are worth the struggle. One hectare can give back a yield of 15-20 tons. Get this, this is for a non-irrigated crop but with irrigation, it is a wow you can get up to 30-40 tons. So think about it and invest in ginger.
Happy Ginger Production!!!