There are a few spices that grow well in containers right at home, and ginger happens to be one of them. Popular in tasty Asian dishes and in many favorite baked treats, ginger adds zingy flavor to culinary delights of all sorts. And, ginger is super easy to grow in a container. In fact, it’s so easy to grow; you may not be able to stop yourself from running out today to get this simple gardening project started. You can have fresh ginger available to add to your own recipes in no time flat.
Ginger has been a useful plant since before historical records even began. It’s believed to originate in India. It’s been a popular spice on the worldwide scale, second only to pepper, throughout time.
The ginger plant’s adaptability has allowed the most humble of folks all the way to the fancy rulers to enjoy it throughout history. For example, Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) is credited with enjoying the appearance of gingerbread men popular still today at Christmastime. Ginger’s rich history goes right along with its impressionable flavor, and millions continue to enjoy its flavor and its medicinal properties today.
How to Plant Ginger: Container Selection and Sprouting
The healthiest ginger plants are grown from reputable nurseries or from quality online gardening sources. But a ginger root can also be purchased from your local grocery store. Grocery store ginger roots may be coated with a growth inhibitor, which prevent it from sprouting in the grocery store. Grocery ginger root may also be treated with fungicides and/or pesticides. So, to clean your ginger, soak your new ginger root for 24 hours before slicing it up to plant.
Choose a wide, flat container to plant. Ginger’s roots grow horizontally, so width is more important than depth. Containers that are small enough to easily be moved inside and out are the perfect choice for ginger. Fill your container with a rich potting soil that will drain well.
Slice your ginger knob, into thin pieces. Select pieces of the knob that have “eyes” on them. Eyes are indentations in the surface of the root, where sprout will begin. Place the piece of ginger with the eyes facing up into the soil, and cover with about and inch and a half of soil.
How to Care for Ginger Plant
Water your ginger well in the early stages of planting. Continue to water or spray your plant’s soil often to keep the soil moist but not soggy. And be patient. Ginger can take several weeks to sprout.
Ginger is a good plant to enjoy indoors in colder climates. While it will enjoy the outdoors during warm months, any frost will kill a ginger plant. Choose a location with indirect light for your ginger.
After about eight months, your ginger plant will be mature. At that point, you can separate the rhizomes by pulling off a section of the plant including a piece of the rhizome. Transplanting is as easy as setting that rhizome into a new container of soil. Ginger is an easy root to share with a friend.
How to Harvest Ginger
Although the ginger plant may take many months to mature, you can harvest ginger when the plant is three or four months old. When you push away the soil from around the rhizome, you’ll notice that ginger rhizomes look knobby. You will also see roots reaching outward and downward from the rhizome. The rhizome is the edible portion of ginger. The roots can be cleaned off as you clean the rhizome to eat.
To enjoy a bit of ginger, simply uncover a piece of rhizome, and trim off one of the finger-like extensions. You can harvest ginger in this manner anytime you wish. However, you may find that you love it so much that you’ll need more than one rhizome planted at a time. You can alternate snipping from your plants if you grow more than one.
Before you eat ginger, you should rinse it and peel the skin off with a potato peeler. Then, enjoy your ginger freshly sliced or grated. Or, dry your ginger by slicing it paper thin and setting it on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in an oven or outside in a dry, sunny location. Ginger may take several hours or several days to dry. When it’s completely dried, it can safely be stored in plastic bags. You can also grate your dried ginger with a coffee grinder. Grated ginger is a delicious result of an easy gardening project!
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Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of Benson Kua