Gardening: How to plant, grow and dry herbs for tea

How to grow ginger and make ginger tea

Buy ginger root at the supermarket or grocery store, preferably with the eyes (the little clumpy bits) turned green. Cut the root/rhizome into several 3cm sections, each with an eye.

From each eye you will get new shoots. Allow the cuts to dry/heal slightly on the kitchen surface for a few days to form a callus on the skin. Each piece needs 20 cm between them in a partially shaded spot. Use garden compost and well-rotted manure (50:50) as these are hungry plants.

Alternatively, you can grow two to three in a large pot with holes for drainage. Plant 5 to 10 cm deep and aim the eyes upward. Keep the soil moist. In the fall, you can either bring them indoors or cover the base of the plant with a thick mulch. After eight months, after the stems have died, dig up the rhizomes.

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Likewise, between mid-December and mid-March, you can buy turmeric rhizomes (fleshy roots) either online or in supermarkets or grocery stores. You want to buy fresh turmeric rhizomes.

As with potatoes, you can do the same with the rhizomes before planting until you see small shoots and a few leaves. Cut each rhizome into 3 cm sections of two or three buds each. Fill the pots halfway with good quality compost.

Place the rhizome on the ground and cover with more soil. Water well and place the pot in a clear plastic bag. Place the pot in a warm spot (you may need a heating mat as it likes temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius) with bright lights. Check the pots every few days. As the plants grow, remove the plastic covers.

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Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and mist the foliage once or twice a day to maintain moisture. If you c. 20 cm high, transplant into larger pots with compost. Grow indoors at a temperature around 21 degrees Celsius. Once all danger of frost has passed, you can take them outside. Provide partial shade so that the leaves do not get sunburned.

Fertilize every few weeks with a fertilizer high in potash and nitrogen. After seven to ten months, leaves and stems begin to turn brown.

This is when you cut off the stems c. 5 cm above the mass of the rhizomes. Wash them thoroughly and place them in an airtight container in the fridge where they will stay fresh for six months.

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Cook the rhizomes until they can be easily pierced with a fork (45 to 60 minutes), drain, scrape off the skins and dry, either in the sun or with a food dehydrator, until brittle.

Grind to a powder in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Remember to wear gloves as turmeric turns fingers bright orange.

Mark’s alternatives to tea

Thyme lemonade – Water, sugar, thyme and lemon juice

Ginger basil spritzer – Grapefruit juice, ice, ginger, soda, basil

Rosemary Cream Soda – Rosemary, tangerine/orange juice, cranberry juice, cream soda

Mint Mocktail – Ginger Ale, Ginger, Lemon Juice, Mint, Water, Crushed Ice

Hot toddy – Water, lemon juice, lavender flowers, ginger, honey, green tea and garlic

Ginger, Peppermint Delight – Ginger, steeped, then add peppermint leaves and honey to taste

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