Ginger, belonging to the root family of Zingiberaceae, is one of the most ancient and widely celebrated varieties, pegged highly for its vast medicinal qualities to usage as spice and condiment around the globe. India’s ancient texts and the Chinese philosopher Confucianist have repeatedly highlighted the benefits of ginger, from actively curing nausea, reducing soreness of muscles, treating indigestion, alleviating menstrual plain and lowering bad cholesterol, to having anti-inflammatory qualities and even having qualities that may protect against brain and neurological illnesses, including Alzheimer’s dementia.
In India, ginger has become an indispensable food item across the length and breadth. It is found to be one of the most predominant spices in cuisines from all the regions of the Indian subcontinent and given the fact that it grows all year round, the demand for this root vegetable is vastly stable and growing predictably. While ginger has traditionally been grown in open grounds, many farmers, especially in the southern region of India have found immense success in growing it hydroponically–some even claim to have achieved up to 8 times the yield as compared to the traditional methods of farming. There are precisely three reasons for this immense success with hydroponic vertical farming–
- Hydroponic farming helps capitalize on the vertical space and leverage the benefits of vertical farming, thereby maximizing space usage and increasing yield per unit space manifold.
- Hydroponic farming allows for the creation and monitoring of a microclimate that is precisely tuned with the needs of the crop being grown.
- Additionally, hydroponic farming allows the farmers to fortify the water in which the crops are directly grown with the exact nutrients and ideal quantities. Direct administration of nutrients through water also ensures faster absorption by the roots and amplifies growth.
Vertical Farming – Growing Ginger Hydroponically
While the process of growing ginger and turmeric is very similar to each other, there are some differences in terms of the gestation cycle and details here and there. We urge you to read our “growing turmeric hydroponically” to get a full picture of the process of growing a root vegetable like ginger from its beginning to the end. At any point, if the information gets too overwhelming, you can check out our online course and get holistic hydroponic farming knowledge from our experts.
Some points that you might want to capture with regard to growing ginger in a hydroponic farming setup are–
- The process of propagation is more or less the same, and a similar substrate can be used for both varieties. However, if the substrate is sought to be customized exactly around ginger, then you can mix fine coconut fiber with 20% perlite/ vermiculite (or a mix of both. Nonetheless, ginger is a sturdy variety and adapts well to most types of substrates, as long as there’s adequate moisture retention.
- It is advised that you first place the rhizome in compost and once the buds open up and you start seeing sprouts, you move it to the hydroponic setup. You can cut the rhizome into several pieces and give adequate space for the buds to sprout. About an inch or a little deeper is the ideal depth for these rhizomes, and you can go ahead and top the pot with more compost once the rhizomes are placed. At this stage, the pot would require plenty of water and sun/grow light.
- When preparing the hydroponic system, make sure you allow at least a square foot of space per plant and choose adequately deep (around half a foot) trays to allow the ginger to expand and grow.
- Fill these trays with about two inches of growing medium and place the sprouted rhizomes. Cover with more growing medium and ensure that the plants stay put.
- With regard to water, the system should be designed such that the water passes through or accesses the roots every two hours. In terms of sunlight/grow light, anywhere between 12-16 hours is advisable.
- The pH level of the water should be in the range of 5.5 and 8, which is less acidic than that needed for turmeric.
- Ginger takes about 4-6 months to grow out completely, and after this period you can harvest the roots for immediate consumption or to process further and dry the roots to later pulverize them.
- Just like turmeric, the drip hydroponic system happens to be the most compatible hydroponic system with ginger and other similar varieties.
Cost of a Small Hydroponic Set-up
While a commercial scale hydroponic set-up costs lakhs of rupees, depending on the structural components chosen, the space, and the market access to the raw material, a home set-up can be set up in as low as Rs.5,000! A moderately fancy system with some amount of automation (For home) can cost around Rs.10,000 and can go up as much as your sophistication and scale needs increase. Our hydroponics expert takes up questions from aspiring hydroponic farmers on our YouTube channel and we urge you to subscribe to it and utilize the free Q&A opportunity at our upcoming webinars with our experts.
While the initial cost of setting up a commercial hydroponic farm may daze a few people, the process of reaching break-even levels of turnover is much faster than any traditional form of farming. Further, the quantity and quality of yield that is produced in a hydroponic farm far surpasses the traditional yield, and therefore, commands a much better price in the open market. With the whole debacle around organic and fertilizer-free food, hydroponic farming is the present and the future. This is possibly why farmers in India are embracing this technology at a lightning-fast speed.
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