Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Ginger’s in the Ground

There’s been a lot going on around here. I feel alternately okay and guilty about not blogging more about it. I guess I feel like in year three much of what we’re doing has already been documented . It doesn’t make the miracles of growing any less amazing nor the commitment of those helping us out any less meaningful. It just means I’m tired of running to the computer every week. I have been maintaining our Facebook feed and hope readers will follow us there. And there have been lots of new developments and differences this year from last. There always will be. Thanks global weirding.

As I shared in March, this season we’re trying our hand at growing young ginger. (Here’s a link to my post about the workshop I attended to learn how to grow this tropical root native to Asia in central Ohio.) I’m really excited to see how this goes and so far it seems good.

After about six weeks of staring a tray full of soil, the spouts were finally growing.

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The light yellowish part between the rhizome in my palm and the plant shooting out the top is young ginger. In a few months, if all goes as planned, it will be bigger and pinker and so delicious!

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After running into Joseph at the market and receiving some last minute advice, I planted the sprouts in a bed that gets part sun. I’m hoping I can keep them wet enough to do really well here. Have no fear, I’ll be sure to post those results here.

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Learning to Grow Ginger in Central Ohio

The first week in March I attended a workshop at the Columbus Agrarian Society on growing ginger in central Ohio. The workshop was led by Joseph Swain who has been growing young ginger a mile down the road for five years and selling it through Swainway Urban Farm. His ginger has always blown my mind – from a gardener/ artist / foodie perspective. It’s gorgeous and it tastes like longevity.

Typically grown in tropical locales, ginger needs some extra attention in these parts of the world. The workshop focused on how to cut up a hand of ginger to produce “seed,” planting and caring for rhizomes while they pre-sprout, and what to do with them once outside temperatures are ready for their transplant (regular temperatures in the 70s or above).

Here’s some of what we saw when we arrived.

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And here’s Joseph showing us how to measure and cut seed.

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A few folks gave it a try…

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And then we all prepped our seed beds and took them home. Keeping the tray around 70 degrees and sunlit has not been easy. I’ve moved mine from the southfacing kitchen table (where it was always in the way and in danger of being turned into a fairy garden) to a bedroom upstairs that gets great light and is empty most of the time, and then finally to the basement to rest on our heating mat.

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Six weeks later, we have sprouts! This is one of those gardening projects I’m really proud of, but really, it was mostly about patience.I know it doesn’t look like much, but just wait…

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Seedbed

This past fall we were on a tour at Swainway Urban Farm when our pal Milan, from Peace, Love, and Freedom Farm, asked Joseph Swain who inspires him. It was a great question and without hesitation, Joseph cited Eliot Coleman, the guru of Four Season Farming. I was somewhat familiar with Coleman’s work from articles he published in Mother Earth News, but we promptly checked a few of his books out from the library and haven’t looked back.

In Four Season Harvest (1999), Coleman offers advice on sowing seeds and raising seedlings in the coldframe. Knowing full well we are in for a few more weeks of very cold weather, we decided to give his method a try today as temperatures soared above 50. As promised, I picked up a soil thermometer and found the soil was fluctuating between 45-60 degrees for the past few days. Perfect for kale, beets, onions, chard…

With the coldframe already cleared of old growth and the soil smooth, we laid a 2-3 inch blanket (about 1 yard) of Happy Frog Potting Soil over all but the small section where we transplanted some seedlings earlier in the week. We set the seeds down in well marked rows and gave them a drink. And now, we wait.

It used to be if I heard the term “seedbed,” my thoughts turned to performance artist Vito Acconci’s (1972) work of that title. If you don’t know it, look it up. (Just be warned, this work is not appropriate for all readers.) I won’t go into it here except to say, that I have new understanding of the term. These seeds are warm and cozy and we’re going to do all we can to keep them that way.

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[Quick note on the transplants. They seem to be doing okay. We moved a few straw bales that were lying around to the west and southwest sides of the coldframe as a windbreak to help these next last few weeks of winter. The transplants aren’t growing as fast as the seedlings still sitting in the kitchen, but they are holding their own, gaining inner strength and waiting to flouirsh as soon as temperatures stabilize. As soon as the grow lights we got are installed, we’ll move some of the guys on the windowsill under there and then they will really start to take off. Can’t wait!]

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Check out our “true leaves!”