Ginger In Permaculture

Where And How Does Ginger Fit Into A Permaculture Design?

Let's see what ginger offers to your permaculture design, and how other parts of your design can look after needs of your ginger.

(This page assumes you are already familiar with the basics of growing ginger and with these basic permaculture design principles.)

Ginger In A Permaculture Design

Let's look at what ginger needs and what it offers. Then we can come up with ideas how ginger and the other elements in our permaculture design can work together to save us work.

Ginger leaves

What ginger needs:

  • A sheltered place,
  • plenty of moisture,
  • plenty of nutrients,
  • filtered sunlight.
  • Ginger usually needs little attention.
  • Ginger is invisible during its dormant period. It needs a place where it doesn't get inadvertently dug up.

What ginger has to offer:

  • Ginger is a delicious spice to add to Asian dishes.
  • Candied ginger is yummy and good for you!
  • Ginger tea is an excellent digestive aid and can be used to treat nausea or an upset stomach.
  • Ginger can utilise space that is too shady for most other useful plants.
  • Ginger can handle being neglected.

Permaculture Design With Ginger

Where to plant ginger in a permaculture design?
  • Ginger belongs into permaculture zone two. If you grow a lot of ginger you could also consider growing ginger in zone three. You should still keep some in zone two for regular use. Zone three would provide big crops for processing or sale.
  • Zone two is generally fully irrigated and mulched, something that ginger likes. It is also densely planted, so there will be many suitable sheltered locations.
  • Grow ginger near other ingredients that you frequently use in Asian dishes (kaffir lime, lemon grass, chillies...). Saves you trecking through your whole garden to gather what you need.
  • Because it loves filtered sunlight ginger is an ideal understory plant to grow amongst smaller fruit trees and shrubs.
  • If you plant ginger near trees then plant it so that it may get some morning sun, but definitely no afternoon sun. Consider how fast and big the tree will grow. Find a permanent location that will not be totally shaded out in two years.
  • In a permaculture design fruit trees will be interplanted with legumes to improve soil fertility. Legume shrubs like pigeon pea are perfect companions for ginger. Their canopy is very open, letting enough light through. You can prune them if you need mulch, and their root nodules add nitrogen to the soil.
  • It doesn't matter if you damage the pigeon pea roots when digging up your ginger. Pigeon Pea will self seed and regrow. But you don't want to damage the roots of your fruit trees.
  • Other plants that would feel at home here are the related turmeric, galangal and cardamom.

Ginger In My Permaculture Garden

My ginger grows in tubs.

As you may have read on the main page about growing ginger, I grow much of the ginger I eat in tubs. I do this for the sake of convenience. It makes harvesting very easy. Just tip over the tub.
I process all my ginger once a year. After that I always have it handy: cleaned, chopped and ready to use, in my freezer.

From a permaculture point of view this is not ideal. Why?

It's simple. I've been storing my ginger in the freezer, when I could have been storing it in the ground instead. Mind you, my electricity is 100% hydro power, so at least I don't contribute unnecessarily to global warming. Still, it just doesn't make sense to rely on an electrical appliance when there is a perfect natural solution.

It's also not safe. All it takes is an extended power failure and I'll have to get by without ginger for the rest of the year. Or, gasp, buy it!

For that reason I also planted ginger in half a dozen different locations amongst my fruit trees, just as described above. Some grow under pigeon pea and crotolaria (another legume) near my kaffir lime tree, the lemon grass is not far away, and there are several chilli bushes and Thai basil plants along the path from the kitchen.

I have two other clumps fairly close to the kitchen as well, because I like to put a piece of ginger in my fresh fruit juice. I don't want to have to walk too far to get it. That ginger is cohabiting with my rosella bushes, another thing I like to add to my juice.

Ginger is also handy to have nearby when feeling a bit off colour. You definitely don't want to walk too far then, do you?

But I will hang on to my tubs as well. It is just too handy to have at least some ginger in the freezer, already cleaned and chopped and ready to use, for days when I get home after dark for example.

And thanks to my readers I now know that I don't need to depend on an electrical appliance for that convenience!

"I must tell you that freezing is not a good way to store ginger. The very best way I find is to skin and cut up your ginger into small chunks (1- 1+1/2 inch) and bottle it in brandy. It keeps like fresh.
If your climate is hot keep it in the fridge."
-- reader Jan Stevenson from Cyprus

"A cheaper way to preserve ginger is in cheap cooking sherry which is cheaper than brandy. Also the sherry can be used in Chinese cookery. I have been using this method for preservation for years."
-- reader Joan smith from the UK

"After you peel your ginger, don't put it in the freezer.  Put it in a jar and completely cover it with some wine or sherry. It will keep indefinitely.
Sometimes I use the liquid in a stir fry (it has the ginger flavour), then top up the contents in the jar to cover them. So now you have ginger to use as much or as little as you want.
It's also nice to give as a gift."
-- reader Mischa Vlismas from Australia

Great suggestions!

Do you have any permaculture ideas or solutions yourself? It doesn't have to be about ginger. Anything that works particularly well in your garden? I'd love to hear about it!

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