Not everyone has room for the seed starting setup in their house – the grow lights, the stand, the fan, etc. I am one of those people. So now I buy my tomato and pepper plants from a local farm. However, I still have the bug to get something growing in my house everything, and houseplants just don’t cut it!
Two years ago I got my first seed ginger, basically 1″ pieces of ginger root, ready to start rooting. 1 flat, 1 heat mat and a sunny window later and I had root growth. Shortly after, shoots appeared and then the starts were planted outside. Talk about gratifying. This process gave so much fresh ginger and it was virtually indestructible. I like those type of plants.
Since then, my organic supplier of seed ginger has either had crop failures or sold out before I got my order in, so I looked to other sources. There really aren’t many. The ginger that you typically eat/buy at the grocery is Zingiber officianale. There are lots of other gingers out there and they have varying degrees of edibility and ornamental value.
Typically the ginger you buy at the grocery store is treated with chemicals to prevent it from sprouting – are we surprised about this? So many of our vegetables are treated in this manner. In order to have good luck with “grocery store” ginger you must buy organic, which can be trickier to find. Once you acquire your ginger root, my general time table is as follows:
1. in March, cut roots into 1-2″ pieces and plant in a shallow tray without covering the top of the root (similar to the way you plant German Bearded Iris). Place shallow tray on a heat mat in a sunny window (or under a grow light, but this isn’t as necessary because the plant focuses on roots first rather than leaves).
2. Around May 15 (or whenever your last frost date happen to be) transplant your seed ginger outside – in the garden or in containers. Ginger is not hardy for us in zone 6/7. As the weather continues to warm, shoots will grow and reach 2′ tall. The plant itself is a nice architectural addition to a container or border – so why not use it ornamentally?
3. Allow ginger to grow outside until September or so (before first fall frost) and then dig up. You will see the roots have multiplied greatly. Just clean the soil off, cut the foliage off and use or store. I like to take a few pieces and repot them and start the process indoors again.
If you are like me and get buggy around the end of July to see what you have, it is ok to harvest, the size will just be reduced. Even though ginger is not hardy for us, it is a try perennial and can easily be overwintered indoors. This provides a perpetual food source which I love. So does ginger sound like fun? Guess what – you can do the same thing with turmeric! Grow ginger for it’s beneficial GI properties and turmeric for it’s anti-cancer properties and your body will thank you!