MY OLDEST former work chum — King Snapper, Chris Thwaites — has a problem. He wants to spice up his ginger.

The many types of ornamental ginger and the culinary variety have a fundamental problem in these climes — these climes!

They need a bit of protection from the cold excesses of this country, although the Isle of Wight is probably the best place in the UK to culture these beauts.

And, when they find a place they like, they flourish. When they do, they quickly fill up a container, use up the nutrients and, frankly, look a tad on the scraggy side.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Chris's ornamental ginger needs a bit of help.

But, what to do..? Ginger grows from rhizomes — you can plant one you get from the greengrocer, if you fancy.

After a few years’ the proliferation will need separating to return the plants to the conditions they used to enjoy — space, feeding and water — in much the same way as rhubarb crowns benefit from splitting.

To split the plants, carefully dig them up trying not to damage the rhizomes and roots. Use a sharp knife to cut away individual rhizomes and discard any that have been damaged or chewed by rodents.

Choose healthy rhizomes that have several ‘eyes’ or growth nodes. When the weather warms later in the spring is the time to plant individual rhizomes in new containers of a free-draining soil with plenty of compost incorporated.

Lightly moisten the medium and plant each rhizome four inches beneath the surface of the soil with the majority of the growth nodes pointing upwards.

Keep the soil lightly moist, but never saturated. If temperatures are at least 21-27 deg C which can be achieved in a greenhouse, conservatory or windowsill with a plastic bag over the top, the rhizomes should sprout in a few weeks.

And you will have many new plants in place of the congested gaggle with which you started.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Hyacinths are another plant which are well worth a bit of extra effort.

On another note, for many years I had a Christmas family tradition — trying to get that bold, brash and highly scented hyacinth bulb to bloom for Christmas.

Most years I got it nearly right and it didn’t really matter if they did not bloom on the exact day, the colour and heady scent were very welcome at a dour time of year.

I ended-up with quite a plantation of multi-coloured blooms in the garden — and the potential for many more.

After hyacinth bulbs finish blooming they always ended up in the same place in the garden in spring — and the result after a few years is many more bulblets.

If you dig down around the original bulbs you will find a host of tiny bulbs. Like all bulbs, do not cut down the foliage but leave it to die down naturally.

The donor bulbs can be left in the ground to flower the following year, but best then to lift every three or four years to divide the clumps of bulblets and replant them.

Do this in mid-summer when bulbs are fully dormant and, like my mate Chris’s ginger, you will be repaid for a little effort — in spades.

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