Matthew PopplewellGinger bred men of Queensland

Perhaps I was destined to live in Queensland for its warm hospitality in hosting a rather large family. A family that is often responsible for sweet things. A family that gave me spice to my life. A family that brought a beer to the world without a headache the following day. It was fair to say that my first love was a gingerbread woman.

Gingers are leafy tropical plants with fleshy rhizomes often with lush green glossy foliage that add a very tropical accent to a garden. This group includes edible ginger Zingiber officinale. Gingers generally have rather drop dropping flowers and can even have very strong fragrances that add a real exotic feel to a tropical garden. Some gingers produce flowers at the end of the leaf stalks (Hedychium, Alpinia) whilst others produce them directly from the underground rhizome in the case Zingiber. Others produce leaves in a spiral manner such as the Costus spiral gingers. I think it’s far to say that a tropical garden is not complete without some ginger.

For this blog I must start the Ginger story with the edible form and a local business that has got a great story to tell on how you grow it and how you grow it well.

For 70 years now Templeton Ginger has been the ginger heart and soul of the famous Queensland market town of Eumundi. Now in its third generation of Templeton farmers it continues to produce fine quality ginger for both local and national markets. Created in the 1940’s by Allan Templeton, (whose son John was actually born in Eumundi Hospital), it has grown to be the largest supplier of ginger in the southern hemisphere. Now in the care of Alan’s grandchildren Kylie and Shane Templeton, they grow two varieties; a Queensland ginger that is used in confectionery, and the jumbo root ginger sold in markets for cooking.

The farm processes close to 35 tonnes per week and during the busy season can employ up to 120 local people with the workers busy washing, cutting and sorting and packing the ginger. As with all plants, growing ginger is a skill and the vagaries of weather brings many challenges to the Templetons but with generations of experience, knowledge and passion for the crop and its increasing popularity, they are continuing to grow their business

At Templeton, the ginger is planted in September and harvested all year round, with harvesting starting in February. As the root matures, the skin hardens and the flavours intensifies and the timing of the harvesting will often determine which ginger product it becomes.

Edible ginger is a perennial plant, distinguished by its lush green stalks as well as its thick and long twisting rhizoid (root). The plant is famous for its concentrated, spicy aroma, which can be attributed to the fact that it is composed of up to 3% natural essential oils. The root is used for flavouring foods and is often ground up and processed into all sorts of powders, tinctures, crystals and tonics. Is there a better tummy settler than a drop of ginger in our tea For me to leave the family and only mention the spicy character in it would be wholly unfair on the others…so that will follow I assure you, for this family tree has a mighty set of branches.

Next time you melt a ginger cookie in your brew…those divine flavours just might have started their life in our very Queensland fields…thanks to the Templetons and their love of ginger. They are not alone there.

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