You can grow your own ginger
Fresh ginger is almost always on my grocery list, 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 grow. Light bulbs went off, and the ever frugal gardener in me kicked into gear. 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 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. 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. Any rhizome from the store will start to sprout. You just need to give it the right conditions.
These tips will help you begin to grow your own grocery store ginger in no time.
Tip #1: Pick the best one at the grocer. Your rhizome should be plump and well hydrated. Look for ones that have nodes that may sprout. The ones in the picture have already begun.
Get it ready to plant by placing it on the counter until the “nodes or eyes” start to grow. This could take a couple of weeks. You’ll know when they are ready because they start to swell and turn a light yellow/green color. 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 your root into pieces with an “eye.” Just like planting 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, therefore it needs to be planted close to the surface. Make sure that the sides of the rhizome are covered with potting soil, but do not put it completely under the soil or cover the top.
Tip 4: Planting ginger works especially well in pots, just 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, the plant will benefit from the addition of compost or aged manure.
Tip 5: Ginger needs consistent water. 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 fairly easy.
Cut the bottom four inches off a two plastic milk jugs. Use one as the planting pot and make several slits in the bottom for water drainage. Place this planter inside the other milk jug bottom. When you water, the excess will be collected in the bottom container and the plant will take what it needs for water requirements. 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 your own 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.
Tip 7: Fertilize with compost or aged manure once a month. It is fairly care free 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 aboveground 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. Unless you live in zone 8 or above, it’s probably best to dig them up at harvest time.
Ginger-Pepper Rice Vinegar
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, take a 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.
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.”
With a bit of advance preparation you can have your own ginger growing from a grocery store rhizome. All it takes is a healthy start, a warm and humid environment and sufficient water. What will you do with your harvest?
Shared with: Wildcrafting Wednesday