Ginger

a large piece of ginger

Cooking applications:

Long used as a remedy for indigestion, motion sickness and upset stomach, ginger hails originally from Asia. Its flavor resembles a mixture of citrus and cayenne, and can be quite hot.

The root is used fresh, dried/powdered, or candied, and is common in Asian, African, and Caribbean cuisine. It pairs well with fruit, meats and poultry, winter squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and baked sweets.

The fresh root will keep for months if stored wrapped in a paper towel inside a sealed plastic bag.

Medicinal qualities:

Ginger is a popular herb with many culinary and health benefits. The spicy root with knotty projections is used extensively in Asian and Indian cuisine. It is also used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.

Since ancient times, ginger has been valued for its anti-inflammatory, anti-flatulent and anti-bacterial functions.

The herb is often used to relieve pain, sooth nerves and reduce nausea. It also treats migraine headaches.

Best Conditions for Growing

Preferred Soil:

Rich potting soil.

Sunlight Requirements:

Keep out of direct sunlight.

Temperature Requirements:

Make sure that plants are protected from high winds.

Place the plants indoors as soon as the weather takes a turn for the worst. Move the plant’s container outdoors when temperatures average around fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

If the plants are placed outside in cold weather—growth can be slowed.

Tips for Growing

Planting:

Purchase newly grown ginger roots from an Asian market or local grocery store. Try to pick fat tubers with many buds on them.

Springtime is the ideal time to plant ginger because the plants prefer warm temperatures. The tubers will begin to grow when daytime highs hit 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put three tubers into a container that is about 1 foot across and 1 foot deep. Make sure the container has excellent drainage.

Place enriched potting soil into the container. Mix the soil with compost.

Place the tubers in a tub of warm water so they can soak. After laying in the water for at least 12 hours, put them into the container just under the dirt.

Lay the tubers down with the buds facing up while spacing them evenly between each other.

Place the container in a shady area with mild sunshine. If you live in a hot climate, avoid putting the tubers in direct sunshine.

Watering:

Sprinkle water onto the plants lightly at first, and then more once the plants start growing.

Harvesting:

If everything goes as planned—the plants should reach a full growth of 2 to 4 feet in about a year or a little less. When new sprouts pop up, dig them out and freeze or eat them, and replant the rest. The new sprouts will show up directly in front of the older plants.

Marjoram

a bunch of marjoram

Cooking applications:

Marjoram is a common ingredient in French, Portuguese, and Italian cuisine.

Good with meats, potatoes, tomatoes, and in herb seasoning blends; it blends well with thyme, bay leaf, onion, and garlic.

Use it as a passable substitute for oregano in most recipes.

Medicinal qualities:

The aromatic leaves of marjoram result in several health benefits to the user. Marjoram hot teas help to stimulate and heat the body during chilly weather.

Individuals with edema can use this herb as a diuretic to assist in eliminating excess water from body tissues.

In addition, essential oils made from marjoram herb have antibacterial properties making it appropriate for use on scratches, scrapes and cuts.

Best Conditions for Growing

Preferred Soil:

Marjoram grows best in a light, alkaline, lime-rich soil.

Sunlight Requirements:

Grows well in full sunlight.

Temperature Requirements:

If you live in a cooler temperate zone—don’t leave the plants outside because marjoram can easily be killed by cold weather.

Tips for Growing

Planting:

Buy a couple blocks of oasis foam and start by pushing the marjoram seeds into the foam. The seeds will be safely held inside of the foam and will give them a safe environment to grow in.

The seeds are small and delicate, so they are not recommended for growing outside.

Place the seeds into small garden containers on a window sill or somewhere else where they can get lots of sunlight. Wait about a week for the seeds to start growing.

The root systems of the marjoram plant will be large enough to transplant elsewhere in about 3 weeks.

Before transplanting marjoram—place equal amounts of sand and loam potting soil into the pots.

While marjoram doesn’t require a lot of water to grow, make sure that the soil can drain well.

Break the oasis blocks into pieces so the roots are showing and place about an inch of soil in each of the marjoram gardening pots.

Make sure the pots are large enough— marjoram’s roots travel a long ways while staying close to the soil surface.

Don’t use fertilizers because marjoram doesn’t need them—it doesn’t need much nutrition. The biggest risks are fungal infections and mites.

These risks can be guarded against by rubbing the perimeter around the plants with fungicide and insecticide.

Watering:

Sprinkle a small amount of water over the plants daily. Make sure to keep them in an area that receives lots of sunlight.

Harvesting:

The herbs should be old enough to pick after they are six weeks old— whenever they reach 3 inches in height. If the plants are picked before the flowers open up, the marjoram will taste better.

Mint

fresh mint leaves

Cooking applications:

An extremely versatile herb, mint can do so much more than garnish dessert plates. Mediterranean cuisine often features mint as a companion to lamb.

It is also often added to peas, carrots, fruit and vegetable salads, ice cream, mint juleps, and mojitos.

Although there are many varieties of mint, spearmint, with its bright green, fuzzy leaves, is most often preferred for cooking.

In contrast, peppermint (most famously used in candy) features darker stemmed, rounded leaves.

Medicinal qualities:

The herb mint has an aromatic fragrance that is popular in aromatherapy products including candles, massage oils, room deodorizers, lotions and shampoos.

Professional aestheticians often turn to mint-scented essential oils to help clients relax during massages.

Mint oil is also known to repel many insects such as cockroaches, ants and wasps. Hot mint herbal tea is helpful for alleviating the discomfort of an upset stomach.

Mint extracts are also a common ingredient in toothpastes to help whiten dental enamel.

Best Conditions for Growing

Preferred Soil:

Moderately rich, well-drained soil.

Sunlight Requirements:

Lots of sunshine preferred.

Temperature Requirements:

72-75° Fahrenheit (22-25° Celsius) is ideal.

Tips for Growing

Planting:

Find a gardening spot where mint can freely grow without bothering other garden plants. Search for a place that is partially shaded and has moist, rich dirt for the mint plants to grow in.

While these are the ideal conditions, mint plants don’t mind full sunshine and sandy soil.

Purchase mint plants to plant during early springtime, as soon as the ground unfreezes. Do not try to grow mint from seeds—it is very difficult.

Put the plants about a foot to a foot and a half apart from each other. Different types of mint plants need more spacing, so make sure to read the directions.

To make sure the plants don’t overrun everything, place them inside of bottomless containers and sink the containers into the ground.

Clay drainage tiles will work well for planting mint plants.

Break the stem ends off the plants every spring to help keep them bushy.

When gardening season is over—prune the plants almost completely and cover them with compost.

Watering:

Water the soil around the plants enough to keep the ground moist until the mint plants have started to grow.

Harvesting:

While the plants are growing, harvest sprigs whenever you need to.