The subtitle to this post is “How To Do Everything Wrong”.
Most of the crops I am planning on growing out at the farm are in the ginger family. I played hooky from basically everything this morning and spent the morning watching youtube videos and reading ag websites on ginger farming. I watched farm videos from Costa Rica, India, and the Philippines. I downloaded cultivation and processing guides from India and Ghana.
And then I looked outside at my ginger patch, I realized I have been doing just about everything wrong.
Well, sort of wrong. Wrong in that irritating “It depends” sort of way. What I’ve been doing is just fine for the home ginger patch in the back of the garden. Not so much for farming. Farming gingers, which as a plant family include turmeric, galangal, ginger, and a bunch of other edible and medicinal rhizomes, is quite different.
In order to grow great ginger, you have to mound soil over the tops of the rhizomes as they grow. This is a preliminary ginger harvest. See the green at the tops of the roots? That ginger is not fit for the market. See how the rhizomes are long but shallow? That’s because I grew them right up under an oak tree and next to a low gardenia- the ginger had to compete with these other plants for root space.
This is my meager galangal harvest. I guess this is decent considering the “mother” was a small chunk of half-dead root with three live “eyes” brought home from a Vietnamese grocery store in Atlanta. Not enough fertilizer, not enough soil mounding, not deep enough soil. I may split up and replant the larger clump as “seed” for next year.
This preliminary turmeric harvest was the most disappointing. Unlike other gingers, turmeric wants sun and lots of it. This turmeric was planted too closely together and definitely in too much shade. There’s only one “hand” and it’s very small. I expect fresh turmeric to be my #1 money-maker so I need to get good at growing this.
This is “seed” turmeric from a local nursery. This kind of turmeric is fine for a backyard garden plot but I have no idea what variety this is. I would invest in a named turmeric variety from India if I could, but to import things like that you have to buy huge amounts. So I’ll probably pay out the nose for organic varietal seed turmeric from Hawaii.
I have a half-dozen other Zingiber-family plants to sort out, too! There’s so much to learn, and I love it.