Ginger is a powerful tropical vegetable that has a wealth of benefits and is surprising easy to home-grow. Often found in Indian and Asian cuisine, ginger adds a tasty kick to dishes while its medicinal qualities are known to improve the immune system and relieve digestive problems.
The root of the underground plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried, in oil or added to a juice or smoothie. As ginger is a tropical vegetable it will not be able to survive frosty climates.
The best time to begin growing ginger from home is the early spring, after the last of the frost or if you live in the tropics, at the beginning of the wet season. It is worth knowing how to grow ginger if you are interested in growing herbs and spices for the kitchen.
Choose your ginger plant
To grow ginger from home, you simply begin by picking up ginger root from a grocery store. For edible purposes, the most common species of ginger is known as Zingiber officinal, although there are many others including ornamental flowering plants that can be found in store however these are inedible species and better suited for adding decoration to your home.
You will need to choose ginger root (rhizomes); visually they are plump and have small ‘eyes’. When the eyes have begun to turn green in colour they are ideal. We advise purchasing organic ginger when possible.
Depending on how many ginger vegetables you want to grow in your garden, you have the option to cut the rhizome into multiple pieces. This means that you will grow more ginger than one plant. Divide the original vegetable root up using a sharp, sanitised knife. As a general rule, any piece that sits at a minimum width of 2.5 to 3.75cm (1 to 1.5 inches) with one or more eyes can grow into its own plant.
After dividing up your root plant (pieces with three or more eyes are more likely to sprout), leave the pieces in a safe and dry location for at least a few days – this will allow the ginger pieces to form a protective callus over the surface and heal, reducing the risk of infection. Remember, each piece of cut ginger will require approximately 20cm (8 inches) of space between them.
Prepare the soil before planting ginger
For the best chances of success, use high-quality, well-drained soil. A mix of garden soil and well-rotted compost (50/50) is best.
If your available garden soil is particularly poor or has high levels of clay, use a rich potting soil instead. Ginger also prefers slightly-acidic soil, so if your soil happens to be more alkaline, adjust using a garden store pH store to between 6.1 and 6.5 pH. Tip: Fill a starting tray with sphagnum moss or coconut fibre. Both drain very well, and in turn can prevent rot in young plants.
Choose the ideal location to grow ginger
Ginger thrives in partial shade, or at most, areas with morning sun. They are best suited planted away from large roots, and ideally should be sheltered from wind and moisture. Aim to keep the soil at a warm temperate between 22 to 25ºC (71 to 77ºF), before the ginger plant germinates. If you are growing your ginger in a pot, ensure you pick one that is at least 30cm (12 inches) deep.
We advise using a plastic pot as opposed to a terra cotta one, as long as you ensure there are holes in the bottom for drainage. The final step is to plant your ginger – do so when your individual ginger pieces are approximately 5-10cm (2-4 inches) deep. Positioned in loose soil, aiming the buds upwards from the soil. Maintain an 20cm (8 inch) space between each piece of ginger. If growing from a pot, plant two or three pieces per large pot.
Ginger plant after-care
After planting your ginger, it is important to keep the soil damp, achieve this by watering lightly straight after planting. Check your ginger often, and water when the soil appears to start drying out, but before it does completely. If you notice poor draining, adjust watering so that you water less to avoid soggy soil, as this can cause rotting.
Ensure you look after your ginger through the cooler months. We advise bringing your ginger in during the winter, and storing in a dry and warm location. Or, if you choose to instead leave your ginger outside, try covering with a thick layer of mulch when temperature drops lower than 10ºC (50ºF).
Your ginger will develop a stronger taste if allowed to develop in the ground. After eight months of planting, and after the stems die, dig up the ginger rhizome. The plant will not suffer if you cut pieces off, as long as you ensure you leave a few ‘eyes’ behind.