Ginger is a useful spice with many amazing health benefits and amazing versatility in the kitchen. I like to keep dried ginger on hand for making a tummy-soothing tea. my local fruit market sells fresh organic ginger as well as amazing locally-made candied ginger I plan on trying to make myself eventually.
The kids love munching on it. Growing ginger is a great way to save money on this spice year round and never have to worry about running out as you can harvest it even when it is dormant if you need more.
How to grow ginger
Ginger grows from the pit of the root, unlike most other plants. A ginger plant’s root is known as a rhizome, which is the same part we eat and use for its medicinal benefits. It’s important to be careful when buying ginger roots you find at the local market or grocery store, as ginger can be treated to stop growth, similar to potatoes.
If you’re unsure whether or not the root has been treated, ask the farmer. If you plan to use your ginger for its health qualities you should use organic ginger to ensure you are not adding unnecessary chemicals to a problem like nausea that could make issues worse.
To propagate your own ginger plant from a ginger root you find at the store you need a small yet plump chunk at least 1 inch long. This root should be fresh and firm. If it has softened it is not fresh and is more likely to rot than grow. Your piece of ginger should have at least one nubby point on it.
Soak the root chunk overnight in clean room temperature water. This will allow the root to suck up as much water as it needs to start the growing process. Plant the ginger root with the nubby bit pointing upwards.
Even if you plan to grow your ginger in the ground this is best started in a point using well-draining potting soil with plenty of peat moss and compost mixed in. In this way, you will provide the ginger root with the nutrients it requires while also providing drainage in the right amounts.
Gently moisten the soil daily. Clean water can be sprayed into the spray bottle to complete this task. Water can then be applied evenly to the soil in order to moisten it but not soaked in it.
Make sure that the soil is moistened twice daily while you wait for the ginger plant to sprout. This process takes patience as it requires 6 to 8 weeks for your spout to make its way out. Your very own ginger plants in your home or garden will provide you with the freshest ginger available making them well worth the effort.
If you live between zones 7 and 10 you can grow ginger in your everyday garden or flower bed. Ginger is a perennial you want to ensure that it has a space of its own so you will not disturb it while adding other plants or disturb other perennials while harvesting your ginger. Before planting in the ground add of plenty organic matter including fresh compost to help feed your ginger.
After your ginger plant has become well established you need to care for it well. Known for its hefty appetite, ginger requires fertile soil and a lot of fresh water.
During its dormant period spanning late fall through early spring, is the best time to prune. As a result, the rhizome will develop new leaves and more roots by the next growing season.
How to grow ginger in pots
For your new plant’s permanent home, you should choose a pot that is large, but not too deep since ginger grows wide rather than deep. If you plan on growing several ginger plants and under the bed storage bin is a great option, you can prune the plants and put the lid on to store. In the winter you can pIn the winter you can.
This will likely be the only pot your plant will ever need due to harvesting.
Anyone can grow ginger in a pot bringing it inside during the winter to protect it. Ginger will go dormant in the late fall so you do not need to worry about providing it with a grow light but simply bring it inside and put it in an out-of-the-way place.
Over the winter, you may want to store your potted ginger plant in your basement as long as the temperature remains at least 60 degrees.
Why should you grow ginger?
- Makes desserts including cookies, pies, and cakes.
- Ginger root can be pickled and used for sushi or salads.
- The root can make a crystallized candy.
- The ginger root can make a soothing herbal tea.
- Ginger oil is also used to create homemade drinks like ginger ale
- This “magic” herb packs a punch of beneficial nutrients that help promote heart health, circulation, digestion and immunity.
How to harvest ginger
Ginger is one of those great plants that can be harvested at any time. I suggest you follow the 1/3 rule when harvesting your ginger and never take more than one-third of the plant in a harvest. You can use this method to ensure that your plant has enough remaining to grow without risk of killing it off.
Ginger should be harvested by gently pulling it up from the base of the plant. As a result, the rhizome and plant will be removed from the soil. Ginger is harvested by gently breaking away a small chunk from the plant and putting it back into the soil. If it has been a while since you mixed in compost, it is the perfect time for it.
If harvesting fresh roots from the garden during cold months when the humidity is low be sure they stay moist until ready for cooking/baking purposes – wrap them loosely in damp paper towels.
Varieties of ginger
Common ginger. Glossy, deep green leaves on two- to four-foot-tall stems that grow from edible rhizomes. Seldom produces flowers. It’s rare to find plants for sale, but you can easily grow your own from plump, fresh rhizomes found at your local grocery store or farmers’ market.
Zingiber ‘Midnight’. Its foliage is brownish-black in color is great for keeping the tones of a tropical garden bed. This plant reaches a height of two feet and a width of one and a half feet.
Myoga ginger. Grows about two feet tall, with light yellow flowers in late summer and fall. The leaves may be solid green or variegated. A hardy species, it overwinters in USDA Zone 7 and even parts of USDA Zone 6 outdoors.
Beehive ginger. With a height of 6 to 8 feet and green foliage, this species is most famous for its blooms: dense, three-foot-tall clusters of yellow bracts turning reddish as they mature from midsummer to fall.
Shampoo or pinecone ginger. Upright, eight-foot-tall stalks of green leaves, with much shorter flowering stems. The mature, cone-shaped inflorescence begins green and turns red over time, releasing a clear liquid that can be used as shampoo for an eco-friendly option.
Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’ has striking, gold-streaked foliage. The height and width of the plant are between 5 and 8 feet. This makes a great decorative tropical plant.