The whole growing ginger thing started when I bought a chunk of ginger root to use in a recipe I was making. After cutting off the root what I needed, I looked at the piece left and wondered if it would grow. So, unceremoniously I poked it down in the soil of one of my houseplants and forgot about it. Guess what? In a few weeks I see this lovely bladed leaf popping up out of the soil. That was the beginning of me growing ginger.
You may be wondering why anyone would want to be growing ginger when all you have to do is pop down to the supermarket and buy it. I have a simple answer. Because it’s easy to grow, it’s a beautiful plant, it’s flavorful, it’s super beneficial and the only place I have to go to get my ginger is a flower pot in my house.
According to the University of Maryland Medical center, the other reasons for growing ginger besides a wonderful flavoring for foods are to treat:
- Upset stomach
- Heart conditions by lowering cholesterol and thinning blood
- Common cold
- Flu symptoms
- Menstrual discomfort
- Cancer – one small study
If you weren’t before, I hope you’re now convinced that growing ginger is a worthwhile endeavor.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is the edible variety. Ginger likes the warm, humid, partly-shaded environment of the tropics and subtropics. Take heart you cold climate goddesses, ginger will also grow for you, but will take extra care.
If you live in USDA growing zone 9, your ginger will love you as long as it gets enough water and humidity. I live in zone 8 and keep my plants in the house. They do just fine despite my tendency to neglect them. This year, I might try putting them in a tub outside and see how they do.
The rule of thumb is if you live in hardiness zone 7, the leaves (fronds) will die back in the winter, but return in the spring. For those living in hardiness zone 6 and less, ginger needs to be inside with you. Ginger is very good company and it won’t give you any sass.
In colder climates (anything less than zone 9), start your ginger plants in the house and don’t move them outside until the daytime temperature reaches 75 degrees F (24 degrees C).
- Get your starts of ginger from your local supermarket. Look for roots with as many growing buds (they resemble the eyes on potatoes) as possible
- Ginger likes rich, well drained soil and grows well in a pot roughly 15 inches wide. If ginger’s roots stay too wet, they will rot.
- Ginger should be planted in late fall or early spring or immediately after harvest.
- It can be harvested about 265 days after it’s planted.
- When you harvest ginger, don’t forget to remove a few fingers with growing buds off the root (rhizome) for next year’s crop.
- You only need to use fertilizer if you are growing in poorer soils or in a pot with standard potting mix. A good 10-10-10 fertilizer, seaweed extract or fish fertilizer administered every few weeks will keep ginger happily growing.
- If growing in a pot, water only lightly in the winter to allow plant to rest.
After harvesting, ginger can be washed, dried and stored un-refrigerated. It can also be peeled, chopped and frozen or cut in chunks and stored in brandy. It’s ready for use in those delectable recipes or to use as a refreshing tea at spa time. One word of warning, ginger tea can be very spicy if left to steep too long. If that happens, as soon as you’re through throwing flames off your tongue, dilute the tea and enjoy.
If you’re already growing ginger, tell us about your experience particularly if you live in zones colder than 6.
Now go have fun and relax.