BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
One common ingredient in Filipino favorites such as tinola and lugaw is ginger (Zingiber officinale), locally known as luya. The plant is widely cultivated for its fragrant roots that add a sweet and peppery taste to any dish.
It is also recognized for its various health benefits because it’s packed with antioxidants and compounds that prevent stress and damage to a person’s body DNA. Ginger may also help fight chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and lung disease while promoting healthy aging.
The native ginger variety, also known as imugan, is commonly grown in the Philippines. It is rich in fiber and is resistant to soil-borne diseases.
Some home gardeners also prefer growing ginger because its roots are used in a Filipino remedy called salabat, or ginger tea, which is used to help fight and cure a cold, cough, flu, and sore throat, especially during the rainy season.
When growing ginger, choose a good variety of ginger roots that’s mature, healthy, as well as free from diseases and cuts.
Next, prepare the soil media. The ideal soil should be composed of carbonized rice hull, vermicast, and compost with a ratio of 1:1:1. Like with most plants, the growth of ginger plants depends on the type of soil media which is why the soil needs to be rich in minerals and nutrients.
Once the soil media has been prepared, place it in a large container such as a sack or a large polybag. Then, dig a hole in the soil that’s five to eight centimeters deep and plant the ginger root. Cover the ginger root with soil and place the container in an area that receives an adequate amount of sunlight.
Remember to water the plants often as needed, especially during warm days. Constant removal of grass or weeds is also required to keep the soil loose. Digging up the soil often can also help achieve this desired result.
When to fertilize
A good way to tell if ginger plants are ready to be fertilized is when they begin to sprout.
For natural input, use vermicast. But for a more conventional approach, dig a hole around the plant that’s one to centimeters deep before adding one tablespoon of a complete fertilizer with a ratio of 14:14:14.
Common pests and diseases
Diseases that frequent ginger plants are bacterial wilt, rhizome rot, and leaf spot. Meanwhile, common pests include shoot/stem borer, cutworm, mealybugs, and grub.
To avoid attracting these pests and diseases, ginger plants need to be regularly maintained and their surroundings clean.
After six to nine months, the ginger roots can be harvested. One way to tell if the plants are ready for harvesting is if their leaves have begun to yellow and dry out.
Ginger roots have many benefits to consumers. Not only does it give added spice and aroma to several dishes but it also has numerous health benefits aside from being an effective remedy against cough, cold, flu, and sore throat.