Gaining popularity for its health benefits, ginger can be found in kitchens around the world for both a medicinal and culinary purpose. It is known for anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as its use as a powerful digestive aid.
Ginger is another one of those garden plants, that people don't think to add to their gardening space, but is really quite simple to grow. Go ahead and give it a try -- these 6 tips will make it even easier for you!
1. Plant after frost-free date
Ginger originates from subtropical or tropical climates and doesn't appreciate the cold. If you're going to plant it in the ground make sure to get it in as early as you can after the frost-free date for your area.
2. Find a spot with part shade
Pick a location that gets dappled shade during the day, or is shaded at the times where the sun's intensity is at its strongest. If you are unsure about the differences in shade/part shade/sun then check out Gardening with Confidence for a quick description.
3. Provide loose, well-composted soil
To encourage good rhizome growth, it's best to have soil that is loose and extremely well-composted. Add 2-3" of finished compost to the surface and work it in well before planting if necessary. Avoid soils that have a high clay content and don't allow good water movement through the soil.
4. Start with 2-3 growing points
Ginger is grown by planting a piece of living ginger root. It's not necessary to buy it from a garden center or nursery; grab a chunk of rhizome from a friend if they have a plant or buy organic ginger from the grocery store. Be careful to avoid non-organic types as they might have been sprayed when chemicals to inhibit sprouting. Look for a firm, plump root that has a light skin and 2-3 eyes on it. This is where the new growth will come from.
5. Plant in a shallow trench
Dig a shallow trench to plant your ginger root in. Your rhizomes should be no more than 1" below the soil surface. The plant will grow horizontally so it needs plenty of space around it, away from other plants. Place the ginger root so the growing points are sticking up towards the soil surface and then tamp the soil down gently over the trench. Shoots should emerge within a couple of weeks and can grow to 4 - 5' tall.
6. Care during growing season
For best growth, add compost periodically around the base of the plant during the growing season or a light application of an all-purpose fertilizer. Water well when the soil is dry but avoid keeping the root zone wet all the time to prevent diseases and insect pests. You can harvest small pieces of the rhizome a couple of months after planting, making sure to replace the soil to foster continued growth, or you can harvest the entire plant when the leaves begin to turn yellow. East Branch Ginger has some great tips for storing your ginger after harvesting!