Q. How can I grow ginger at home?
Ginger is not hardy in the New York metropolitan area but may be grown indoors or as an outdoor plant if brought inside during the colder months. In cultivation it requires hot, humid, shady conditions which may be hard to reproduce in an air conditioned home but is well suited to summer outdoors in a pot. It grows best in a fertile loam as it needs large quantities of nutrients.
Begin in late spring with a 4 to 5 inch length of ginger, purchased from an organic market, or even better from a seed catalogue. At the market, select a piece with several knobby buds and greenish coloring at these extremities. If you are using market-bought ginger, before breaking into inch long pieces, each with a bud, soak the root in water to remove the commercial growth inhibitor. Now allow the sections to sit out and dry for several days to avoid rot.
Prepare wide shallow pots with rich, well-draining, potting soil and plant the ginger segments about an inch deep, one per pot. Ginger root grows across the soil so allow plenty of space in the pot! After the threat of frost has passed, place the pots outdoors in full shade and water thoroughly. Continue to water lightly when dry until leaves begin to emerge, after which you can water less frequently but deeply each time.
In zones colder than zone 7, bring the plant indoors when night temperatures move below 50 degrees F. and keep in a humid, warm shady spot. Your ginger root will be mature in six to ten months at which time you can harvest some for culinary use, leaving the rest to grow as a decorative plant or break the remaining root into segments to begin again.
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service
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