As gardeners, we strive to grow a garden that is rich with herbs, spices, and vegetables that are healthy for us as well as appetizing to eat. Many items meet these criteria, making it hard to narrow down our options to only the things we have room enough to grow. When making these sometimes tough decisions, something you may want to avoid passing up is ginger root.

Ginger is a flowering plant in which the rhizome is typically used as a spice. The plant hails from China but has made a very prominent mark in the United States as well thanks to its many health benefits. Whether you are well versed in its use or are newly experimenting, it truly has something to offer to us all. For example, ginger is used to treat nausea, which is something everyone has experienced. In addition to combatting nausea, ginger plays a big part in fighting off the flu and common cold. It also helps ease digestive upset and chronic indigestion thanks to Gingerol, a bioactive compound. Also possible is fighting inflammatory diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis which will make both you and your dentist happy. It does not end there, however, as the list of ginger benefits goes on and on.

Since part of gardening is spending time moving earth and compost, we sometimes get sore after a day’s work. Well, those muscle aches and pains can be soothed with ginger. The anti-inflammatory properties it contains are useful for overcoming pain such as osteoarthritis and even menstrual pain, but it is a progression rather than an instant fix. For example, consuming ginger daily will give you a continued anti-inflammatory response but taking some on a given day is not likely to yield the same results.

Another good reason to incorporate this incredible root in your diet is that research has shown it to lower blood sugar and improve A1C in diabetics. It even has shown to help get LDL lipoproteins (also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) under control, reducing cholesterol as well as levels of blood triglyceride. It has even demonstrated anti-cancer properties that are useful in combatting several different forms of cancer. As if all of this wasn’t amazing enough, ginger also has properties that can boost brain function and memory, fending off the effects of aging and possibly even delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

With all of this in mind, it should be quite appealing to add ginger to your garden. Luckily it is very easy to do so by simply planting the roots themselves. In order to get started, pick up a healthy root (firm with green tips emerging from the ends) from your local grocer. While you’re out, pick up some sphagnum moss as well as a container in which to plant your roots.

Upon bringing your roots home, the next step is to soak them overnight. Warm water is best for this purpose in order to jump start the growth process. The overnight soak will also serve as a cleaning process to remove anything with which your ginger may have come into contact. After the overnight soak is complete, place the root into a container of sphagnum moss. Water lightly and watch for leaf formation. After the appearance of leaves, you will see the root begin to multiply. These can then be broken apart and replanted in potting mix where the root multiplication continues. The root should be mostly submerged with only the top exposed and from there your root will continue to grow.

The best time of year to grow ginger in an outdoor garden is during the warmest part of the year where heat is plentiful along with humidity. However, the roots grow well in a container garden if that is your preference. Just be sure to allow it ample sunlight and plant in a place where good drainage will be available to it. As the roots mature, they can be dried, powdered, or used in fresh form. Ginger compliments many dishes and also makes a good tea.

Although there is a lot you are likely looking forward to planting this spring and summer, squeezing in some ginger may be worthwhile. Whether it is the health benefits or the taste you crave, a little bit of ginger can go a long way to fulfilling your needs. Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick some up and see for yourself just how delightful it can be!