Start Growing Ginger for Recipes and Remedies
Growing ginger is an interesting process. Once it is established, you can chop it up and replant a piece to grow a whole new plant whenever you want. This spice can be used in fruit salads and Asian dishes or candied and eaten as a delicacy. The sweet, strong taste can be paired with garlic or mint to enhance either flavor. Add ginger to tea as an herbal remedy for nausea.
Planting & Care
This plant is grown from rhizomes (horizontal underground stems) rather than from seeds. You can buy fresh ginger from the grocery store for planting at home. Select a large piece that is glossy and bulbous. It should have many little nodules protruding along its length. Soak the rhizome in filtered water overnight at room temperature.
If you are herb gardening in a cool climate, growing ginger in a container will work best. That way, you can bring it inside whenever the temperature dips below 50 degrees. Somewhat sandy, well drained soil enriched with compost is ideal for this herb. Plant the ginger root with the nodules facing upward. Cover it with only an inch of soil.
Water this plant generously during its active stages. Soaking it daily during warm weather is fine since you are using a soil that drains rapidly (not clay!). Keep this plant out of direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day and the afternoon. Partial sun penetration such as that provided by a shade tree is ideal. However, if you are growing ginger indoors it should be placed where it gets as much sun as possible. Shelter this plant from strong winds.
In the winter, the green foliage of the ginger plants will die off. Simply cut the yellow leaves off level with the soil. Water the roots lightly once per month during this dormant phase so they don’t dry out completely. Don’t soak the soil during the winter or the ginger may rot.
Harvesting & Storage
If you start growing ginger in the spring, you can harvest it in late fall. Or, you can wait until the second year when the plant has become fully established. Dig along the edge of the herb to find a protruding rhizome. Chop it off and the rest of the plant will just keep growing.
Alternatively, you can dig up the entire plant and cut it into smaller pieces for replanting in new pots. These make great herb gardening gifts for your friends.
This herb can be dehydrated and kept in a cool, dry place. For easier storage, peel and chop the ginger and freeze it. You can refrigerate ginger for up to a month for fresh use. After that, it tends to shrivel up.
Image courtesy of CC license by Flickr user zak greant