How to Grow: Ginger

Listen to this podcast on how to grow and care for edible ginger.

Ginger, Ingber, Immerwurzel, Root, Sharp, Spice, FoodI’m always looking to push the envelope of what we can grow in your climate. I’ve got fig growing down, so my latest adventure is fresh ginger. I love the flavor and love cooking with ginger root. Ginger has many medically qualities such as aiding digestion, improving circulation, and helping combat arthritis.

This tropical Asian root loves heat and a long growing season, so you’d think it wouldn’t grow well here. But with a little help, mine did, and I’m growing more next year, too! I started with some transplants and placed them in our unheated greenhouse. You can also use a mini tunnel or hoop house. I planted in May once temperatures were above 55 degrees and the plants grew strong all summer. I discovered the 2 foot tall leaves and stems have a subtle ginger flavor. So, we also harvested some leaves for cooking. Ginger also likes water and fertilizer. I amended the soil with compost and added a balanced organic granule fertilizer in spring and again in summer. In fall, before a frost, we dug up the plants and were amazed at the quality of our ginger roots. They had a thin, white skin, instead of the common brown color due to the early harvest. The taste was superb. We froze most of the roots for winter use.

If you want to grow more than a few plants, start your own transplants indoors 2 months before setting them outdoors. Buy ginger roots from a garden center or mail order, place the root section with 3 eyes pointing up in a shallow, wide pot filled with moistened potting soil. Top with 1 inch layer of potting soil and grow in a warm, brightly lit room. In 3 weeks you should see ginger plants sprouting. Wait until late May or June to plant outdoors.

Excerpted from the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.