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Gingerly We Grow

A great question came in to Ask Gardenerd this week:

“Hi Christy, I want to try growing ginger in my zone 24 garden. I’m
planning to start with a store bought (or farmer’s market if possible)
piece. Do you have any experience or tips for growing ginger? Thanks!”

I’ve grown ginger once before, when a neighbor at my community garden handed me a rhizome they had just pulled from their own garden.  It had plenty of growth on it already, so I just buried it in the ground and watered it regularly.  Or shall I say, I tried to water it regularly.  The plant did okay, but given that it’s a tropical plant that likes some shade, I probably made two mistakes: too much direct sunlight, and not enough water.  In the end, it withered and “disappeared”.

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I’d like to try again though.  Here’s where I would start:

1) Buy some fresh ginger from the supermarket (organic is best).  Make sure it’s fresh and not dried up. The more buds it has, the better, because shoots will grow from there.  You can break off pieces and plant them separately to get more ginger plants.

2) In cold climates, plant your ginger in a pot. In warm climates like Southern California, you can plant in the ground.  Some experts advise setting the rhizome on top of the soil, others suggest planting 2 inches beneath soil level.  Choose a location that gets some shade.

3) Keep the soil moist (this is where I failed), but let it dry out in winter when it is dormant. 

4) In about 10 months, much like garlic, you’ll be ready to harvest.  You can cut off pieces while the plant is still growing, or wait until the foliage dies back and uproot the whole thing.  Replant new growth but save some for the kitchen.

And if you need to learn more about zone 24, or some of the other micro climates in Southern California, here’s a link to Sunset’s page about it:

Good luck growing ginger – I think you’ve inspired me to try again this spring.

Has anyone out there grown ginger?  Share your experiences here.

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