How to Grow Ginger from a Root
I live on a budget and I am always looking for ways to save money. One of the easiest ways is, of course, to save on food bills. One of my least favourite things to do is to throw food away. You know how it is. It seems that you just bought that fresh ginger root, put it in the fridge and 2 days later, it's slimy and unusable. Here is my solution to that problem.
First, try to buy organic ginger root from the supermarket. Mainly because it's not usually irradiated to extend shelf life. Irradiation retards the growth cycle, and we really want it to grow. If you can't find or afford the organic then so be it, the regular stuff will have to do. I've had very good luck with the non-organic, so maybe they don't process it as much as more perishable foods?
I look for the roots with more 'knobs' than the others, because each 'knob' has the possibility of a growth spur. My ideal ginger root would be a big fat root with lots of little gnarly ones attached. That way I can actually use the largest tuber and sprout the small ones.
Next. Do NOT put it in the fridge. I keep mine in the fruit bowl. It won't go slimy and it will be more likely to grow. You'll find that it does become a little stringy as it ages, but this just means it's prepping for the growth cycle.
Example of a ginger root
It's very easy to see when the ginger is starting to grow. The 'knobs' actually start to enlarge and you will soon see what looks like the inside of the root starting to push out. It's usually a very pale colour and doesn't look much like the start of leaf growth. Bearing in mind that the ginger we refer to as the root is the rhizome of the plant, [roots secure the rhizome in the ground and transfer nutrients] so what we are going to get is the above ground leaf and stem growth.
I like to wait a while before I plant it in soil, because the risk of rotting with watering is quite high and we need to make sure the growth of the root is underway before sitting it in wet soil. If you live in a moderate climate you can plant this outdoors and just harvest every year. Making sure you replant some of the rhizomes to maintain your crop. I live in a high snow area, so I grow mine in pots that I bring indoors over winter. Much to the delight of my cats, who will eat the ginger greens when I am not looking!
As I said, I grow mine indoors for most of the year, and usually start a new root off each year due to the cats killing off the plant with repeated uprooting and nibbling at the leaves. I try to harvest what I want from the plant before they discover it's in the house. I use containers to make life easier. I can put it outside once the frosts are gone, and move it back indoors when the cold hits.
I mix a really good potting compost with a good drainage medium, such as sand, because ginger hates having her feet wet. Fill your pot with soil and simply place the root in the soil about 3 inches down, with the growth bud facing upwards. That little bud will strive to reach the sky, and we don't want it to have to grown down and around before it gets there. Why make it work harder?
When? Anytime indoors - as soon as your ginger starts growing. Outdoors, early spring or late winter is best. Again, not in the colder climes. You guys get to container it. A little more care is needed for the indoor plants. Make sure you spritz the leaves often and remember that plants love light rain. I try and spritz my indoor plants when it's raining outside. Sounds silly, I know, but to me it makes sense that cloudy wet day signals rain to the plants, and they don't get it. So we have to provide it. And before you ask, no I don't talk to them!
I harvest two ways. The leaves and the rhizomes. Not only do the leaves smell fantastic, but they taste great. I just cut a few and use them a little like lemongrass. Perfect for a salad, or cooked in a stir fry.
The roots should be dug up in early spring, separated into those you can use and those for replanting. Replant, and leave for next year. Repeat.
Ginger leaf tea can easily be made by chopping some of your leaves and steeping in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, strain and drink. Of course you may add in honey and lemon if you prefer. Ginger is fabulous for the digestive system and can relieve many stomach issues. Chop your leaves and dry them for later use, then store them in airtight jars. You will have the basis for many recipes that call for ginger, including using the fresh leaves as garnish.
The best advice I can give to successfully sprout your ginger is to have fun, let the ginger do the work and get to it before your cats do!
Ginger in Herb Lore
Most plants have cultural associations with magical properties and ginger is not excluded. Traditionally the spicy root is used in Love and Passion spells to heat things up a bit, and in Protection spells for the cleansing reminder of fire.
Combine ginger with any combination of herbs to add a spark to the working. Gamblers should carry High John and Nutmeg along with Ginger to promote good luck.
In countries where Ayurvedic remedies are used, ginger is a 'hot' herb and therefore stimulates. Often considered a 'male' herb it can be recommended to boost circulation in all areas of the body.