Ginger is a perennial that has lush tall leaves about 80cm high and produces rhizomes that are harvested for use in cooking. It is a tropical plant and is not at all frost hardy.
We grow our ginger indoors in a tunnel house or green house. It requires sunshine and warmth but not intensive direct sunlight. In it’s natural state in a tropical rainforest it would be partially shaded by the other plants. My (Gail’s) tunnel house has a plastic cover that is UV protected so reduces the light penetration and is perfect, previously I grew it in a glass house with clear glass but I gave it some light shade using a piece of shade cloth.
Ginger requires a deep rich soil and regular watering. It can be grown in a deep box, fish bin or half barrel. Although most of the rhizome grows horizontally some does grow vertically and it also puts down deep fleshy roots so requires at least 25cm depth. I use potting mix or soil mixed with some horse or cow manure and with Nature’s Garden fertiliser added.
Rhizomes can be large with several growth points and can be cut into pieces for planting. After cutting the pieces need to be left for the cut face to cure or dry before they can be planted. Ginger is best planted in late winter or spring. Plant the pieces at around 20 cm spacings and with the top surface of the piece about 3cm below the surface of the growing medium.
Ginger can be slow to start growing. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged and eventually it will start to grow strongly. It grows over the summer and autumn and then the tops die down in the winter.
Ginger is best harvested after the tops have died back. After selecting rhizomes to be the starter pieces for the following season the remaining ginger can be used fresh, dried or can be frozen. Frozen it keeps for a long time and can be used pretty much straight out of the freezer. The starter pieces kept for the following season can be planted immediately after the growing medium in the box has been refreshed, replaced and / or remineralised. We’ve been growing it for years and each winter we remove some of the growing medium, mix in manure with what’s left and then add new up to the required level. Then start again planting the pieces you have saved.