You Can Grow Your Own Ginger
Fresh ginger is almost always on my grocery list, and we use quite a bit of it for cooking and cold remedies. About a month ago I happened to take a good look at the ginger on the counter, and it looked like it was beginning to sprout.
Delicate shoots went off, and the ever frugal gardener in me kicked into high gear.
How to Grow Ginger
Why can’t you take that rhizome and grow grocery store ginger?
Well, it turns out that you can. With just a little bit of advance preparation, you can have ginger happily growing in your yard or windowsill within a month.
Choose the Right Rhizome
If you are purchasing ginger just for re-growing, then choose an organic rhizome. Rhizomes are similar to rootstalks. Why not start with the best?
It turns out that it’s not entirely necessary to have organic to get yours started, the grocery store variety does not have anti-sprout chemicals on it like potatoes do. You can learn how to sprout and grow potatoes in small spaces here: Creative Ways for Growing Potatoes in Containers.
Any ginger rhizome from the store will begin to sprout. You need to give it the right conditions.
These tips will help you begin to grow your own grocery store ginger in no time from the right rhizomes.
Tip #1: Pick the best looking one at the grocery. Your rhizome should be plump and well hydrated, not shriveled or mouldy. Look for ones that have nodes that may sprout. The ones in my picture had already begun.
Get the rhizome ready to plant by placing it on the counter until the “nodes or eyes” start to grow. This could take a couple of weeks. Make sure that the temperature and moisture levels in your home matches closely those of ginger’s natural habitat.
Grocery store ginger is usually grown at the tropics, which is why it is rather iffy to sprout it in colder or drier climates.
You’ll know when the rhizomes are ready because they begin to swell and turn a light yellow/green color. It should take a few weeks.
It looks much different from the root you’ve purchased. Keep it on the kitchen counter with plenty of sunlight. This works best in the spring when plants are naturally beginning to grow. The rhizome on your counter may start to shrivel, that’s okay. No need to give it water at this point.
Tip #2: Once the sprouting begins, cut the root into pieces with an “eye.” Just like sprouting potatoes, each piece needs to have at least one growing node that will sprout. Let each cut end heal for a few hours before planting.
Tip #3: Ginger is a rhizome, not a root even though the rhizome is commonly referred to as “ginger root.” Therefore it needs to be planted close to the surface (some ginger home growers recommend putting the rhizome about one inch in soil). If you want to follow my method, make sure that the sides of the rhizome are covered with potting soil, but do not put it entirely under the soil or cover the top.
You can place it horizontally or vertically in the potting mix – it grows equally well.
Tip #4: Planting ginger works exceptionally well in pots, be sure that if you are going to keep it in a pot, you give it plenty of room to grow. You should use potting soil for the pot and once transplanted into outside soil, and the plant will benefit from the addition of compost or aged manure.
Tip #5: Ginger needs consistent watering. I’ve heard that it likes to be planted at the end of downspouts or in wet areas, but I have not tried it yet. I have mine in a makeshift double waterer so it can draw what it needs. You can make your own relatively easy.
Cut the bottom four inches off two plastic milk jugs. Use one as the planting pot and make several slits in the bottom for water drainage.
Water drainage is essential as you don’t want the rhizome to root or to develop mold in the process. The potting mix should also be one that allows proper drainage.
Place this makeshift planter inside the other milk jug bottom. When you water, the excess will be collected in the bottom container, and the plant will take just what it needs.
This makes watering easy because you only have to do it once or twice a week.
Tip #6: Remember ginger comes from the tropics and likes a humid environment. It grows best in zones 8-10. Create the ideal environment by making a plastic tent to go over the pot until the plant has begun sprouting and is established.
If you have a greenhouse you have the ideal conditions, try to mimic that environment. You can also grow ginger in the kitchen or even a bathroom windowsill (humid area) if there is enough light.
You could build a mini green house from empty, clean milk jugs, like I showed in a previous post here. I’ve only grown microgreens in such miniature greenhouse and the sprouting process is greatly accelerated.
Tip #7: Fertilize with compost or aged manure once a month. It is reasonably carefree once it gets established.
Tip #8: You can harvest your ginger at any time. However the longer you leave it to grow, the more you will have. Each fall dig up the roots and set aside a few to replant in containers.
Be sure and protect it from the cold. The above-ground part of the plant will die back in the winter. Don’t let it sit in water during the cold season or the rhizome will rot.
Ginger-Pepper Rice Vinegar Recipe
- 1 cup fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
- 1 Tablespoon whole black pepper
- 1.5 cups ice wine vinegar, heated to 110° in a medium saucepan
glass jar for steeping
- Add the ginger and the peppercorns to the steeping jar.
- Press them with the back of a spoon to release the flavor.
- Add the warmed vinegar and stir slightly.
- Screw on the jar lid and store in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar daily.
- After 1 week, taste and check the flavor. Continue steeping until the flavor is to your liking.
- Strain out the spices and use in cooking and salad dressings. It will keep for at least 6 months.
This recipe comes from: The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables by Carol Costenbader.
It’s one of my favorite preserving books.
Frequently Asked Questions
We answer some of the most asked questions about how to grow ginger at home or in your yard.
What Can You Do With the Leaves After Harvest?
While you can add them to the compost pile, it seems a shame to waste them. Although not as commonly used as the root, the leaves and shoots of ginger are edible.
Here’s a suggestion from SFGate Homeguides,
They are mainly used as a flavorful garnish much as you would use chopped chives or green onions, rather than eaten on their own. To use the leaves or shoots, chop them finely and sprinkle a small portion over a dish before you serve it or add it just at the end of cooking. The shoots and leaves have a mild ginger flavor.”
How Long does it Take to Grow Ginger?
Growing ginger usually takes eight to ten months. After that, you have a full grown plant ginger in right there in your home, given that you followed all the steps on how to grow ginger in pots and executed them properly.
However, you can choose to start harvesting the roots after several months, but no sooner than 9 weeks after it sprouted. Just remove the loose soil from the root then spray with water. Roots mature in around 10 months as well.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Growing Ginger?
Fresh ginger is one of the most used ingredients in many dishes. It is a tropical plant that is very easy to grow. However, like most plants, there are advantages and disadvantages to ginger growing.
Read on to find out the pros and cons.
- Ginger helps improve blood flow. The following minerals are found in ginger: chromium, magnesium, and zinc.
- Can help minimize motion sickness symptoms.
- Stimulates gastric and pancreatic enzyme secretion for nutrient absorption.
- Helps with digestion and bloating.
- Fights respiratory problems.
- Helps battle flu and cold symptoms. Just drink 3 cups of this miracle Honey Lemon Ginger Tea every day until symptoms subside.
- It may have side effects such as mouth irritation and stomach discomfort (just steer clear of non-organic ginger sourced from China if you’re allergy prone or have stomach or liver issues.)
- May cause rashes.
- May cause the risk of bruising and bleeding – don’t take it with blood thinners, such as Heparin (commercially known as Fragmin, Innohep, or Lovenox) or Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
- Not advisable for people with high blood pressure.
- Risky if consumed during pregnancy; while ginger is great at lowering the risk of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, as Indian and Chinese healing traditions have shown, if taken in large doses, it could boost the risk of miscarriage because of its anticoagulant effects).
Extra Tips on How to Grow Ginger Indoors
These are additional tips for growing organic ginger indoors, from young ginger to a full grown one. Plus, when you finally have to harvest ginger.
- Store baby ginger in the freezer when not in use. Just cut some pieces out when you finally do need it, wrap them in cling film, and freeze them.
- Make sure to use good quality soil when planting in a pot. Sandy loam is good for outdoor growing season. On the other hand, compost-enriched potting soil can be used in a pot utilized to grow ginger indoors.
- If you purchase root ginger from the store, get rid of the growth inhibitor that is used for commercial purposes. It allows fresh ginger to be shipped and stored without growing.
- Always keep in mind to provide enough water to the root in well-draining soil.
- Always grow from a rhizome, not from the seed.
Final Thoughts on How to Grow Ginger
With a bit of advance preparation, you can have your ginger growing from a grocery store rhizome. All it takes is a healthy start, a warm and humid environment, and sufficient water. Have you tried growing store-bought ginger at home? What did you do with your harvest?
Shared with: Wildcrafting Wednesday
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