Around here there are all kinds of chichi food stores and Latin and Asian markets. And in some of them, the produce sections bulge with all manner of intriguing looking items: tropical bulbs, rhizomes and who knows what all. I have no idea what these strangely bulbous things are, other than a part of somebody else’s diet.
And though I’m not chomping at the bit for a taste, I am curious about what kinds of plants might grow from these oddly-shaped tuberous treasures. So this year I decided to find out. I just got back from Whole Foods with a big chunk of galangal root. Wikipedia informs me it is a member of the ginger family, most likely blue ginger (Alpinia galanga). A mix of galangal and lime are used in Asia as a stimulant and aphrodisiac. And in Haiti, the stuff is an ingredient in Voodoo potions. What I have looks a lot like a canna rhizome (but more yellowy) complete with a few eyes that seem ready to get growing. I’ll pot it up just as I would a canna, wait for some stems and leaves to appear then grow it on in a big pot outdoors. In the meantime, I plan to make a few more trips to the grocery store. I noticed a few other promising candidates: something that looks a lot like an elephant’s ear bulb, and some spudlike stuff called malanga. I may try some sugarcane too. It’s going to be fun and, maybe, even tasty.