All About Ginger
I can’t say that ginger is a favourite spice of mine but I felt I had to start growing it of its other benefits such as curbing nausea, easing arthritic pain, boosting immune systems, aiding with indigestion to name a few. Plus it has antibacterial properties and is an all-round disease-fighter, loaded with antioxidants. However getting ginger to grow was a challenge to get it to grow indoors but I did manage it.
Since ginger prefers tropical hot climates most of the ginger that arrives in our markets are cultivated in southern China, India, Indonesia, Hawaii or West Africa. This is why growing it outdoors in Ontario is not suggested, although it can do well in our summer months it won’t survive the winters. Ginger may only grow year-round in zone 9 or higher.
First thing to do is to select a root or rather a rhizome that is on the large side and healthy, 4 to 6 inches long, with multiple “fingers” extending from it. Then start by soaking the ginger root in a glass of warm water overnight. This will help stimulate growth and wash away any chemicals that may prevent germination. Then dig a shallow hole and plant the rhizome with roots pointing downwards and any sprouting shoots just below the surface. If you’re planting more than one ginger root, leave at least 12 inches between each root. Water well once you’ve firmed the soil. Then continue watering thoroughly once a week. Ginger prefers a regular soaking rather than a daily light sprinkling.
Ginger can withstand temperatures around 12°C or higher. Use a rich, loamy, and well-draining soil for planting. If the temperature gets too cold ginger will ‘shut down’ and you can damage it, trigger “dormancy,” or at worst, kill it off completely.
How to Harvest
If you’re growing ginger for culinary use, the rhizome crop will be ready to harvest around eight to 10 months after planting. Wait until the leaves have died back, then dig up the whole plant – this is easiest if you are growing your ginger in a container as you will not risk disturbing other plants and can simply tip the pot onto a tarp. Clear the soil off the rhizomes so you can see them clearly. Then, start by separating the material you will use for growing your ginger plant next year. Look for the section of the root with most eyes (little shoots) as this highlights that it’s productive and likely to grow well next year. Set this to one side. The remaining sections of root need to be separated into manageable chunks and cleaned with water and a cloth but be sure to keep the skin intact.
Dry the ginger and store as you normally would. You can also freeze ginger once it has been peeled.
However, I prefer to harvest small quantities of ginger root as I need it. You can harvest ginger without killing plants by simply cutting off a small section of the root. Use a sharp knife to remove a piece of the size you need, then replace the soil and water it in well. Some of the ginger roots will be green, these are less mature sections of the plant and will be a lot milder than the brown ginger roots. It is best to leave these in place and opt for the more mature, darker roots when harvesting small amounts for cooking.