You expect ginger to be growing in tropical climates like Hawaii and Southeast Asia. And for many years, any ginger you could buy here was from those locations.
But in the past dozen or so years, farmers in metro Atlanta have been growing ginger, first as an experimental crop and now, with more years of experience, as a standard part of their farm rotation.
Vicky Fry of Fry Farm in the north Walton County community of Bethlehem has been raising vegetables since she was a kid growing up in Walton County. It’s a pretty good bet she wasn’t considering growing ginger back in those days.
But now it’s a standard crop for the farm. “This is our fourth year growing it. We learn more every year. I read it would do better if we presprouted the rhizomes, and this is the first year we tried that. It definitely made a difference. And we planted in a location with more shade, where it’s not in full sun and the soil is sandier and moister. It’s yielding much better for us.”
She gets her ginger from Puna Organics in Hawaii and buys turmeric from them, too.
Fry planted about 30 pounds of ginger which was enough for a 300-foot row. And she expects each pound of ginger rhizomes to yield about 10 pounds of edible ginger, or about 300 pounds altogether. It’s a nice addition to the farm’s plantings since it’s harvested late in the season.
Fry began harvesting ginger at the end of October and will keep it into the ground until there’s the threat of a freeze. A light freeze will kill off the tops of the plants but if the ground doesn’t freeze, the rhizomes will be fine. When the temperatures drop consistently and the ground gets to the point of freezing, that’s when all the ginger has to be harvested.
Fry says she likes ginger so much that she puts it into almost everything she cooks. Right now, because the ginger harvest is corresponding with a great harvest of winter squash and pumpkin, she’s making lots of pumpkin soup using her North Georgia Candy Roaster squash, ginger and coconut milk. “It’s super good. My son doesn’t care for soup, but he loves this one.”
You can buy ginger from the Frys at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market Dec. 2 or 9. (The market is closed the Saturday after Thanksgiving.) After that, you can order via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the farm’s website, www.fry-farm.com/, for pick up at the farm.
Shrimp Sambal with Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Ginger
Lesli Schwartz of the Asian Caucasian food blog offers her readers lots of recipes that use ginger. For us, she provided a shrimp sambal that includes cauliflower and chickpeas. Her recipe suggests using a purple cauliflower, but white cauliflower will work.