Fresh ginger brings a touch of authenticity to any Asian stir-fry and makes a cool, soothing cordial on a summer afternoon. Growing ginger in your home kitchen garden can be easy.
Ginger can be grown from the fresh ginger available at your grocery store, which is actually the underground runner, or rhizome, of the plant. For best results, use pieces that are young, tender and plump. Sometimes store-bought ginger has been treated with a hormone to prevent it from sprouting. This problem can be avoided by buying organic ginger or purchasing it especially from nurseries or garden centres. Ginger that has already begun sprouting is ideal for growing at home.
Where to Position
Originating in tropical Asia, ginger likes warm weather, humidity and rich, moist soil. In the tropics, it usually needs a part shade position, but in cooler areas, full sun is usually best. Ginger grown in pots can be moved around to make the most of sunlight availability. Ginger should also be moved away from strong winds and frost which can kill the dormant rhizomes.
As winter approaches, the leaves will begin to die down. In frost prone areas, the roots can then be dug up and dried out a little in the sun to help preserve them. Put aside as much as you want for your own use and store the rest over winter in a dark, dry place. Replant it in spring. In tropical and subtropical zones, ginger can be left in the ground throughout the year.
Ginger prefers a soil pH that is slightly acid to neutral (between 5.0–7.0) but if your soil is enriched with plenty of compost, soil pH is unlikely to be a problem.
In a Pot: Step by Step
1. Select a pot of minimum 40 litre capacity (the larger the pot, the easier to keep your ginger in happy growing conditions) and fill the container with a free draining medium like Searles Peat 80 Plus Potting Mix.
2. Plant rhizomes (runner) about 2cm beneath the surface. Make sure the growing buds or ‘eyes’ are pointed upward before covering them over with soil. Water well.
3. To keep the soil moist, cover the opening of the pot with a clear plastic bag (or some cling wrap). This will trap the warmth and moisture.
4. Remove plastic when the new shoots appear above the soil.
5. Water every 3-4 days depending on weather, but don’t overwater as gingers fleshy roots will quickly rot in waterlogged conditions. This can be avoided by giving it good drainage (using a larger pot assists with this). Water regularly and mulch to keep the soil moist but not wet.
Transplanting to the Garden
Shoots should break through the soil surface about a month after planting. Allow at least another 5–6 months before harvest. After it has developed a good root system, container-grown ginger can be planted out into garden beds. Plant ginger plants 30cm apart.
Ginger grown in pots should also be divided or harvested when the pot is full, normally 8–12 months after planting. To harvest, trim off any leaf stalks and either tip out the whole contents of the pot or dig them out with your hands.
Dig your food!
Dietitian and Nutritionist Deb Blakley from Kids Dig Food writes:
“Ginger not only adds wonderful flavour and fragrance to foods, it also has medicinal value. Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, the value of ginger in western medicine is being proven for many ailments including nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy, motion sickness, some cancer treatments and helping to reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.”
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