Growing your own galangal
If you enjoy south-east Asian dishes like beef rendang, laksa and Thai curries then it's likely you've eaten galangal (alpinia galanga).
The part of the galangal plant that you eat (the rhizome) looks like ginger and has a fragrant, spicy and peppery taste with hints of pine, citrus and ginger. Above ground, galangal looks very similar to ginger, with clumps of upright stems and long elongated leaves.
Galangal can be grown in frost-free, warm temperate areas but does best in the tropics and subtropics. To grow your own galangal, start in spring by planting a rhizome (often available from Asian grocers or via mail order) around 10cm deep into soil that's moist but well drained. It will do best in a protected microclimate, sheltered from harsh sun.
Keep the clump well-watered while it establishes and feeding regularly with a complete fertiliser will promote healthy foliage growth and lots of rhizomes. If you can be patient, allow the galangal plant to grow undisturbed for the first year and then harvesting can begin in the second year.
Carefully feel around in the soil and cut away small, pink rhizomes as you need them, leaving the rest of the clump to continue to grow. In areas with mild winters, the galangal plant will be evergreen.