Effective Tips for Growing Ginger

Ginger is a tropical plant, but you don't need to live in a tropical area to grow it. The plant can be grown indoors in a container or outdoors in areas with a mild winter. You grow ginger from its rhizomes, which produce a small bud that develops into a sprout.

The rhizomes need plenty of food, particularly phosphorous, and water, to successfully grow and produce more ginger. Usually, you can begin to harvest ginger roots after the plant has been growing for several months. You can also wait until the end of the growing season and harvest the entire crop at once.

How to Plant and Care for Ginger

If you live in an area with a tropical climate, you can successfully grow ginger outdoors, in the ground. Ginger needs a 10 month growing season to produce fully mature roots, according to the Penn State University Extension, which is why it is commonly grown in areas such as China, Hawaii and the Caribbean.

growing ginger

Photo by Ajale licensed under CC0

You grow ginger from its rhizomes, or roots, not from seed. You can purchase the rhizomes from a gardening supply store or try to plant ginger you purchased at the grocery store. Since grocery store ginger is often treated with a growth inhibitor, which keeps it from sprouting, you should soak any grocery store rhizomes overnight to remove the inhibitor, according to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

Before planting, divide the ginger rhizome into several 1 inch or so pieces. Each piece should have an eye, or a small bump on it, from which the ginger will sprout.

Let the rhizome pieces dry out for a few days before you plant them. The cut area needs to scab over and dry before the roots go into the ground.

The video from iCultivate shows you how easy it is to plant ginger in the ground. Dig one long trench in your garden and place each rhizome six inches apart. The buds or eyes on the rhizome should face up. Cover with soil, then a layer of mulch or compost and water well.

Since ginger has such a long growing season, it's best to plant it in the early spring, so that it will be ready to harvest by early winter.

Caring for Ginger

Ginger needs a fair amount of food and moisture to grow well. It doesn't require full sun and will grow in shady areas.

To make sure your ginger gets enough nutrition, add fertilizer on a regular basis. You can mix in compost or a slow release fertilizer when you plant the rhizomes. Give the plants a dose of liquid fertilizer, preferably one with a fair amount of phosphorous, every few weeks as they grow.

Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy, while the ginger grows. You don't want the soil to dry out between waterings. It also shouldn't be so wet that it remains saturated or forms puddles on the surface. If you do have very soggy soil, adding sand at planting can improve drainage.

Other Options for Growing Ginger

You can still grow ginger, even if you don't live in a warm or tropical area. Instead of growing the plant in the ground, you'll want to grow it in a pot. You can keep the container outdoors in the spring and summer and move it in as the weather cools down.

Growing Ginger in Containers

To grow ginger successfully in a container, you need to choose a pot that is fairly large, at least 12 inches wide and deep, and that has drainage holes. You can plant a ginger root you bought at the supermarket or seed ginger root from a garden center, if you can find it.

The video from DIY Home and Garden walks you through the process of planting and growing ginger in a container. Instead of using garden soil in the pot, you'll want to use a mix of compost and container soil, which is specially designed for use in pots.

Keep the container out of direct sunlight and be patient, as it make take weeks before your ginger sprouts. In the video, it took about four weeks before the tiniest bit of ginger appeared above the soil.

After several months, the ginger should reach a height of about four feet. Around that time, it is usually ready to harvest.

Growing Ginger Indoors

Ginger can grow well in a pot indoors, if you live in a cool area or don't have any space to garden outdoors. For best results, put the container with ginger in a part of your home that doesn't get a lot of sunlight and that is relatively warm. Ideally, the room will be about 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Harvesting Ginger

There are two ways to harvest ginger. With the first method, you harvest the entire crop in one go.

You can harvest the whole plant in the fall or early winter, about 10 months after planting. You'll know it's time to dig up the ginger because the leaves and stems of the plant will have turned brown and died back. To harvest, simply pull or dig the entire plant out of the ground.

Shake off the extra dirt and rinse any dirt that clings to the rhizomes away. Separate the rhizomes and set them aside to dry out for a few days.

Another way to harvest ginger is bit by bit while the plant grows. You can usually begin to harvest fresh roots about three months after planting. To do that, dig into the soil a few inches at the edge of the plant.

Find a rhizome and cut a few inches of it off. Replace the soil around the plant and rinse off the harvested rhizome. You can use it right away or let it cure for a few days to dry out.

After you harvest ginger, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few weeks. You can prolong its storage life by putting it in the freezer, where it will keep for about six months.

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