Growing Ginger Root

I often wondered if it was possible to grow the Ginger root/Zingiber officinale I saw at our grocery store – so I decided to try.  I started in the produce department of  Village Market, our local grocery store. I spent a little bit of time going through the small bin or fresh ginger. I was looking for ginger roots that had eyes/growth buds that looked as though they wanted to grow.

ginger root eyes

The “eyes ” on this piece of ginger root looked promising. I chose two roots that had several growth buds like the ones in the picture. I immersed the ginger roots in water overnight to soak off any growth retardant that might have been used.

ginger soaking 400

The next morning – well actually the morning after that! – I drained the ginger and cut it into smaller pieces – each with 1-2 growth buds. I put a small piece of newspaper over the hole in the bottom of a 14 inch pot and filled it with potting soil. I watered the soil, let it settle, and evened out the surface. I laid the ginger rhizomes horizontally on the surface of the potting soil, growth buds facing up as much as possible. I pushed the rhizomes into the soil until they were about 1/2 inch deep and keeping the top surface of the rhizomes visible. Ginger grows like an iris – the rhizome creeps along the surface of the soil. ginger root planted 400

Ginger needs no more than  a couple of hours of direct sunlight a day so I placed the pot next to the trunk of a large maple tree in filtered sunlight.  I kept the pot watered. It helps to set the pot on a few bricks to allow the soil to drain. In a few weeks  I began to see growth pushing up along the sides of the rhizome, directly out of the growth buds! WooHoo!

ginger growth buds 400

The new growth elongates into  what seem to be elbowed stems. This “elbow” is actually a leaf sheathed around the stem.

ginger leaf 1 400

As the leaves grow they break free and open up, allowing the stem to continue its growth upward. Some do not  break free – just leave them alone and they will simply dry out.

ginger leaf sheathed 400

The stem continues to elongate and push more leaves.

ginger leaf unbent 400 In about 5-6 weeks you can have a pot of ginger growing beautifully. Fertilize lightly twice a summer with an organic fertilizer. I use fish emulsion.

ginger pot of new growth 400

Keep your ginger in filtered shade  and evenly watered. Ginger does not like to be soggy – just evenly moist.

ginger pot of new growth 400

Ginger will not tolerate frost so bring it inside when fall temperatures start to fall into the lower fifties. Allow the pot to dry out. The foliage will turn yellow and you can trim it off. Water only sparingly once a month over the winter. This gives the ginger a winter dormancy rest. In late winter you can bring your pot of ginger into a sunny window and begin to water it. Hopefully it will begin to push growth.  Move the pot  outside to filtered shade when temperatures are in the high 50’s. Ginger will grow slowly until it fill its pot so don’t harvest until the plants are well into their second year of growth.  You can pull up the rhizomes, use some for cooking, and replant a new pot.  Or . . .  harvest a nob or two and allow the rest to keep growing.

You can store fresh pieces of ginger in a small bottle of brandy in the refrigerator.  Now . . . start saving recipes for using that ginger!

Hey from the farm,
Fran           The Country Cousin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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