How to grow ginger: expert tips for this spicy cooking ingredient
Learn how to grow ginger to give your culinary creations an extra kick – it's easy with this advice
Learning how to grow ginger is cheap and easy, and will reward you with a fiery, yet surprisingly versatile, ingredient in the kitchen.
Whether added to curries or stir-fries, turned into cordial, or finely grated into cakes, ginger root will give all manner of recipes a kick. Plus, it's known to have plenty of health benefits as it's packed with antioxidants. It can help settle stomachs and tackle nausea, too.
Sure, it's relatively inexpensive to buy in the supermarkets, but growing it yourself is much more fun. And, as James Wong reveals in an article for The Guardian, freshly harvested ginger is more delicate and almost floral in flavor than the usual stuff you'd buy off the shelves.
Just bear in mind that, as a tropical plant, it's not one for adding to your raised beds outdoors unless you live somewhere hot and humid. Instead, grow it as part of your indoor garden ideas on a sunny windowsill, or, in a greenhouse.
How to grow ginger in 4 simple steps
Growing ginger is 'easy enough if you plant live, healthy rhizomes,' says John Negus, an expert gardener from Amateur Gardening.
Simply follow his steps below to grow these vegetables in pots:
- Set the rhizomes 4in (10cm) apart and 4in (10cm) deep in an 8in (20cm) pot filled with loam-based ericaceous compost augmented with a quarter part, by volume, of coarse grit or perlite. Ideally, do this in spring.
- Water in the rhizomes and stand the pot on a south or west-facing windowsill. Being tropical, they will need a minimum temperature of 70ºF (21ºC) to grow.
- Ginger plants also need high humidity, so spray yours at least three times a week with clean rainwater. It's also a good idea to place the pots on a deep drip tray filled with coarse grit, and then, when you water, ensure the grit base is wet right through. Provided the pot sits on this gritty surface, the compost within it won’t waterlog and cause roots to rot.
- Liquid-feed the plants weekly with a high-potash tomato fertilizer to help them grow strong.
Can you grow ginger in the ground?
Ginger is only suitable for growing in the ground outdoors in tropical climes. This means, in the US, you are unlikely to get a successful harvest unless your region has a hardiness rating of 9 or higher.
And, if your backyard fits the temperature bill, be aware that this perennial can spread quite aggressively, so growing ginger in a pot may be a better option anyway.
However, if you want to give it a go, choose a sheltered spot with dappled shade, as would be found in its natural jungle habitat. Ensure the soil is free-draining but also nutrient-rich – dig in plenty of organic matter beforehand if necessary.
Where can you buy ginger rhizomes?
After reading the steps above, you'll see how easy learning how to grow ginger is – and getting the rhizomes in the first place is simple, too. In most cases, you'll just need to pop to your local grocery store.
Pick a firm, healthy-looking root, labeled as 'organic'. Look for one with visible 'eyes', says James Wong for The Guardian. These are the small, yellow tips that shoots will sprout from, he explains.
How long does ginger take to grow?
To harvest bulky rhizomes, you'll need to wait at least ten months or so after sprouting for the plant to mature. Once the leaves have turned yellow and dry in fall, simply dig up the roots. If you like, you can cut off a section for replanting – just ensure it has 'eyes', as before.
It's also possible to harvest 'baby' ginger root, which is more tender with a milder taste, earlier – around four to six months after sprouting.
Whether adding this flavorful ingredient to savory or sweet dishes, peeling and freezing it for later, or using it to make your own herbal tea, be sure to wash the roots thoroughly beforehand.
How do you overwinter ginger plants?
If you've raised your ginger plant in a greenhouse and want to continue growing it into next year for more harvesting, you may need to bring it indoors for the winter months as it won't survive cold temperatures.
'New leaves will appear and replace brown ones that have suffered in too low a temperature,' says John.
Our dedicated guide has more ideas on what to plant in a greenhouse for tasty crops.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
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