Forget the exorbitant high prices, just grow your own garlic and ginger
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Last month, shoppers across South Africa expressed their anger and concern over the recent raw ginger and garlic price hike.
People have been flocking to markets to purchase these natural immune boosters to aid in their fight to protect themselves against Covid-19.
After realising the “unreasonably” high prices, some said they would rather die than buy ginger and garlic these days.
In an interview on The Midday Report show on Cape Talk with Lester Kiewit, agricultural economist Dr Kobus Laubscher said Covid-19 and the increasing awareness of the health benefits of ginger and garlic should be blamed for the extreme spike in prices.
Laubscher suspects that prices will probably never return to pre-pandemic levels.
“I don’t think prices will come down that much. I think it’s a new lifestyle item that carries a lot of weight. There will be a reaction from producers, but the price will never be as low as before,” he said.
Food Lover’s Market warned that the price of ginger was expected to increase further, due to an increase in demand and a shortage of supply.
“With the advent of another second Covid-19 wave, we’ve seen the popularity of ginger increase as consumers seek to bolster their immune systems by including ginger in juices, soups and extracts.
“These factors have, in turn, increased the price of the imported ginger at the fresh produce markets, which then has a direct effect on retail prices,” it said.
What can we do about it?
Some South African have given up on buying ginger and are planting their own. You can do the same.
According to the Gardening Site, garlic and ginger are easy to grow in a home herb garden and will produce abundantly. Bonus, both are easy to store, so once you grow them in your garden you will never have to buy either one of them again.
Follow these tips for growing of garlic and ginger, so you can enjoy the tasty rewards all year.
Garlic seeds are the cloves on the outside of the bulb. Buy them at your garden supply centre or use healthy seed cloves from garlic bought from a supermarket. Don’t remove seed cloves from garlic bulbs until you are ready to plant them. Autumn is the best time to plant them, but garlic can also be planted in the spring. In very mild climates, garlic can be grown all year round.
Select a planting location that is in full sun, and has well-draining soil that has been amended with plenty of compost. Snap off the outside cloves from the garlic bulb. Poke each clove 6 to 8cm deep in the prepared soil, with the pointed tip facing upward. Plant cloves 8 to 13cm apart.
Water cloves and cover with 15cm of lightweight mulch, like straw. The garlic shoots will find their way up through the lightweight mulch. Keep soil moist and stop watering when the green above-ground shoots turn brown. Harvest anytime after shoots turn brown.
Ginger grows best in a sheltered location, filtered sunlight, warm weather, humidity, and rich, moist soil. Buy rhizomes (ginger roots) that have “eyes” (they look like tiny horns). Soak rhizomes overnight in cool water the night before planting.
Plant in late winter or early spring in prepared soil. Plant 6cm deep with eyes facing upwards. Each rhizome can be broken apart to create more plants as long as each piece has an eye. Space rhizomes 8cm apart. Keep soil moist and mist plants with water during times of drought. As a rule, most species of ginger thrive in moist soil.
Ginger grows slowly and won’t be ready to harvest until the end of summer. As the weather starts cooling, your ginger will start to die back. Reduce the water, even let the ground dry out. This encourages the ginger to form rhizomes. Once all the leaves have died down, the ginger is ready for harvest.
In mild climates, garlic and ginger can be left in the ground until needed. Both can be harvested and stored in a cool, dry place until needed. Do not wash after harvesting. Place them in a single layer during storage.