Thursday, December 11, 2014

Growing Ginger

Herbs and spices are some of the most expensive things you can buy at the grocery, especially if you want organic.  And the price is definitely impacted by distribution costs; I nearly fainted in the grocery store in Key West when I had to pay $9 for a jar of organic bay leaves.

Fresh ginger is another of these expensive items.  It is fairly reasonable here in Ohio, but at the southernmost tip of the United States, it is quite expensive.  This makes it a great option to grow.

To grow fresh ginger, simply take a nub of your existing ginger "hand."  You will know if it is viable if it is starting to sprout while on your counter, like that little bit with the green tip in the bottom center of the photo.  Take a nub about two inches long, so you have some root to start with.

Plant the ginger in a deep pot under a shallow layer of dirt, and keep heaping dirt in as the plant sprouts, kind of like you do with potatoes.  When the pot is full, just let the lovely foliage grow and the rhizome under the soil make more ginger for you.  Since the plant looks fairly tropical, it makes a nice addition to your window sill.

Ginger takes a long time to grow.  What you see in the photo is eight months' worth of ginger growth across several pots; I planted in April and just harvested last week.  But, since ginger is a container plant, it isn't taking up any garden space or obeying the seasons.

Ginger seems to like a fairly warm climate, so put it in a warm window or outside during summer.  Water regularly, and you will have fresh ginger on occasion that you don't have to buy.

The Analysis

Fast:  Not at all.  Ginger is terribly slow-growing, so it is an exercise in patience.

Cheap:  I harvested three ounces of ginger from my pots; not a lot, but certainly enough for a batch of homemade ginger ale!

Good:  Organic, home grown, and free.  My kind of project.
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