Ginger is a root vegetable with a fresh, spicy flavour. It's used in a number of dishes, including curries, stir-fries, salads and smoothies. It has powerful anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and is a great digestive aid, making it a fantastic choice for the home grower.
Ginger is native to tropical and subtropical forests of south-east Asia. However it's easy to grow in the UK, as long as it's grown in a frost free spot, such as in a greenhouse or conservatory. Ginger needs warmth, so is best grown as an annual although it's possible to overwinter ginger if you keep it in a centrally heated home. In warm climates, ginger does best in partial shade but it will tolerate more sun with British temperatures. Move to partial shade if conditions become hot and sunny in summer.
How to grow a ginger plant at home
To grow ginger at home, pick up some fresh ginger root from your supermarket or grocery store – it's usually sold alongside herbs or with garlic and chillies. Check the root over carefully, choosing a firm, plum root with 'eyes', which are the developing ginger stems. Plant this in shallow compost in a seed tray and keep in a warm spot for up to six weeks, until the shoots have developed. Pot on into a fresh pot, topping up with compost as the stems grow. Keep well watered. your ginger should be ready to harvest in autumn.
Where to grow ginger
Ginger will grow in any sunny spot in a frost-free, sheltered spot. A greenhouse or conservatory is ideal.
How to plant ginger
You can place a whole piece of ginger in a pot or cut it into sections, ensuring each piece has at least two 'eyes' to grow shoots from. If cutting the ginger, leave it for a couple of days so the wounds callus over. Then, part fill a seed tray or pot with compost, and place the ginger on the surface, with its eyes facing upwards. Cover the ginger root with a couple of centimetres of compost, leaving the eyes exposed. Water using a watering can with a rose attached, and keep in a warm spot in partial shade.
After a couple of weeks your ginger root will have developed roots and shoots. Gently lift it from the seed tray and transplant into a pot of compost, placing it on the surface and covering gently with 5cm compost. Ensure the stem is sticking out at the top. Firm gently and water well, allowing to drain.
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How to care for ginger
As your ginger plant grows, keep it in a warm, partially shaded spot and water regularly, ensuring the compost remains just moist. Top up with additional compost as the stem grows. You can pot on your ginger plant and grow it on as a house plant or even outside in the summer months, taking care to ensure it's not exposed to cold winds. If growing your ginger outside, move it back indoors when temperatures start to fall in autumn.
How to harvest ginger
Your ginger plant will stop producing leaves in late summer. Harvest the roots any time after this, or before the first frosts if growing outside. To harvest ginger, simply remove the rhizome from the soil. Harvest all or some of the roots – you can cut the rhizome and pot up the rest, as long as you keep it in a warm, centrally heated spot over winter. Wash thoroughly before eating. You can store some roots in the freezer to use as and when you need to.
Advice on buying ginger
- The best way to grow ginger is to pick some up from your grocery store
- Choose organic ginger where possible, and make sure it's firm and has at least two 'eyes