Thursday, October 16, 2014

Growing Ginger - My First Time

The ginger in my pantry has started to sprout, so I guess it's finally time to plant some ginger in the garden. I mean, if this rhizome is this determined to grow, it deserves to be planted. 
Ginger is one of my favorite flavors. I love it in Thai vegetable soup, with stir fry vegetables, in carrot juice, and my guilty pleasure is my husband's homemade ginger ice cream. Ginger is something we always have in the pantry since it keeps well when stored in a dry place. 

The health benefits of ginger have been well-studied and include soothing gastrointestinal distress (nausea and gas), boosting immunity, relieving motion sickness and morning sickness, reducing inflammation and fighting cancer. Being a person who lives with chronic joint and muscle pain, I feel that controlling the inflammation in my system helps me manage my pain. Anti-inflammatory medications upset my sensitive stomach, so I choose the natural route to wellness. I prefer delicious ginger over a pill any day.

Ginger tea is my favorite go-to remedy for an upset stomach. Simply peel and slice some ginger and steep it in hot water for a few minutes, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if you want. There you have it, stomach relief the natural way.

This is my first time planting ginger in the garden, and although early spring is the ideal time to plant it, my nurseryman said it's fine to plant it now in my Los Angeles area garden. I figured it's worth a try since my rhizome is already sprouting, so I did some research and this is what I have learned about growing ginger. 

It grows in tropical zones (USDA Hardiness Zones 7 and higher). In cooler climates it can be grown indoors. You can purchase ginger root in the grocery store. Technically it is not a ginger root that we eat, but rather a rhizome. People refer to it as ginger root, and I'll use both terms. Look for plump roots with multiple "fingers". If there are green tips at the end of the fingers, that is good because those are the growth buds. 
To plant the root, choose a sheltered area. Dappled sunlight is ideal, or plant in partial shade. The plants are sensitive to frost and wind so I chose an area next to a covered brick patio where it will be tucked behind a rose bush and underneath our tangelo tree. 
Ginger was planted where you can see the blue tape covering the hose end toward the left.  My dog approves, Sweet Bessie May.
This is the bed where I recently transplanted some strawberries. Read about transplanting strawberries here.

Ginger prefers rich, light and well-drained soil. It prefers to be evenly moist, and likes humidity. This bed was basically sand, so I added plenty of organic compost. The soil ended up being one part sand and one part compost. This organic compost had chicken manure added so hopefully it will be rich enough. I will continue to mulch the area with homemade compost as needed.

Break apart the ginger into 1-2 inch pieces, each with growth buds. 
After you break it apart, leave the pieces exposed to the air for at least one day. This allows the cut ends to harden so they won't rot.

Planting depth is something that I've found varies by author. Some say to plant no deeper than one inch, some say to plant the rhizomes 3-5 inches deep. I decided to plant mine 2 inches deep.  I spaced the pieces 4-5 inches apart in a clump.
The rhizomes will develop and spread out to create a clump. Apparently they do not mind being a bit crowded so I decided to grow one clump instead of spreading the pieces out more. Being my first experience, I'm looking at this as a bit of an experiment. Maybe I will regret planting them so close together. I've also read that the rhizomes may even push toward the surface of the soil and become exposed which is said to be no problem. 

The foliage grows to 4 ft high and will die back in all zones except zone 10. Since I live in zone 10, I'm hoping for green leaves all year, but we will just have to wait to see.

It takes several months for the roots to grow enough to be harvested. It can be harvested all at once in late summer/early fall once the leaves have turned brown. Simply dig up the clump, remove the foliage, rinse then dry the rhizomes. As you harvest the clump, you can simply break apart some of the fingers and replant them to grow your next crop.

If you are like me, waiting nearly a year to harvest the mature roots will be difficult. The young rhizomes can also be harvested before then if you gently remove some smaller outer pieces without disturbing the plant. These younger parts are less potent, with a more delicate flavor than the fully mature root.

I'm hoping for good ginger growing karma in my little garden! 

p.s. Read an update on how the ginger is growing here.

                   

37 comments:

  1. Try turmeric also.I lived in Hawaii for 25+ years and always grew ginger & turmeric. Very medicinal...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea. That's another new one for me to try.

      Delete
    2. Just started ginger. Growing gangbusters in a bucket on my kitchen floor. Realized I could do tumeric too late last year. Waiting for it to come back in season here in michigan grocers. First day of snow expected! Happy Halloween!

      Delete
    3. yes, both are great! have them in my juices :) and everything else for that matter... hehe

      Delete
    4. I'm not sure I have ever seen fresh tumeric in the stores. I will definitely look next time I'm in the grocery store. This year I am determined to try lots of new things in my garden. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Delete
    5. Try Indian grocery stores. Two varieties orange and yellow.

      Delete
    6. I have purchased fresh turmeric at Whole Foods

      Delete
  2. Are all gingers alright to use or is it a specific ginger? I have about 6 different types, but have never used them in the kitchen. Just bought turmeric and will be planting it soon here in Florida.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are flowering ginger plants which are used as ornamental plants in the garden. I am not sure if you can eat those rhizomes. The type that is eaten does not produce the large showy flowers. I bought my ginger root in the grocery store. Good luck with the tumeric.

      Delete
    2. Does anyone have a list of edible ginger varieties. Also, can you suggest on line sources. I seem to find locally only on variety.

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What kind of flower is on the left side of your page? The pink ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are seeing vinca, but I'm not sure because different computers show a different amount of the background photo. On my computer I only see a few vinca petals peeking out from behind vinca leaves. On my husband's computer you can also see smaller lobelia flowers which are magenta.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your quick response. I have vinca at my house and did not know what kind of flower it was. You just made my day!

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Have you tried to grow galangal (if I spelled it correctly) like this? Might give it a try. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Honestly, I have never heard of galangal before so I looked it up and it sounds wonderful. How have you used galangal?

      Delete
    3. Galanga is used in Thai food. Is easily grown in hot dry areas.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Yes, it can be grown inside in a pot but it needs a sunny location. Happy planting!

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the suggestions here-I am in the process of trying to grow ginger here, but I live way up north in Humboldt County. Not sure it will work here, but I suppose it could be done indoors?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Zachary,
      Yes, it can be grown indoors in a sunny location. My understanding is that it cannot tolerate temperatures lower than 55 degrees F.

      Delete
  9. I had no idea ginger could be grown indoors and considering I live in Boone, Nc. and we just had our first snow, I am elated to have happened on your blog!! I absolutely love fresh ginger and will definitely be planting some asap! Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crystal,
      Good luck with the ginger! Glad you enjoyed my blog. I always wonder if it's uplifting or depressing to read about winter gardens when you live in a snowy area. Hope it's inspiring!

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Does any of this work in the Arizona desert? Would love to try but so hot and dry here, and the ground is full of caliche.

    (Caliche (ka-lee'-chee, or sometimes klee'-chee) is a sedimentary rock, a hardened natural cement of calcium carbonate that binds other materials—such as gravel, sand, clay, and silt. It occurs worldwide, in aridisol and mollisol soil orders—generally in arid or semiarid regions, including in central and western Australia, in the Kalahari Desert, in the High Plains of the western USA, in the Sonoran Desert, and in Eastern Saudi Arabia Al-Hasa. Caliche is also known as hardpan, calcrete, kankar (in India), or duricrust. The term caliche is Spanish and is originally from the Latin calx, meaning lime.)

    Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I'm not familiar with caliche. Have you considered raised beds? That way you can bring in garden soil. Or ginger can be grown in pots or tubs too, but choose a protected area out of direct sunlight, keep it moist.

      Delete
  12. in which season ginger grow in pakistan?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robina, Ginger prefers warm humid weather. It does not do well with temperatures below 55 degrees F. I am not familiar with the climate in Pakistan but it can be grown indoors too, in a sunny location.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any chance you would share your husband's ginger ice cream recipe? It sounds heavenly!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have grown ginger in windows in Southern California zone 10 as I wanted it as an indoor plant. I find it sprouting happily then perishing with the same treatment, I know now why. :(

    ReplyDelete