Ginger is a root (rhizome) that is grown for its flavour, and is a great addition for any veggie patch. Every year in late Spring I plant a batch of ginger somewhere in the garden, usually in the same bed as turmeric. I would use at least four or five kilos every year and I always prefer it fresh.
It’s not hard to grow if you follow some straight forward steps. It can be grown in large pots or in the garden bed quite easily in my climate. I have grown it both ways, and I find that those grown in the garden beds always seem to produce better results. Anywhere south of Sydney will find it more difficult to grow because it grows best with some heat and humidity.
Soil preparation: I have sandy soil so I add compost, or if there is none available, use mushroom compost – it also works well. A handful of blood and bone also gets dug through the soil as well, and if you need to adjust the soil pH, add lime. They like a pH of 6.5.
Location: We’re likely to get a lot of really hot summer days so I try to find a location that is sheltered from the scorching Summer sun. I usually cover it with shade cloth for the hottest summer days.
Sourcing your first root stock: Try to get your ginger from an organic supplier online, or grab some from the local farmers markets. Make sure that the supplier you get it from has grown it, or sourced it from someone that has not used a growth inhibitor on the roots. Growth inhibitor is used so that the ginger can be stored for longer periods. It stops them from sending up shoots while it’s on the shop shelf.
Planting (Spring): Into well prepared soil, dig a shallow hole and lay the ginger into it. (The pieces I plant are usually about 2 fingers in size.) Cover with 3 to 4 cm of soil. I put one piece of ginger every 30 cm apart in rows 40 cm wide. I then water them in well and cover the bed with 4-5 cm of sugar cane mulch. Mulch keeps the weeds down and the soil temperature more even. The ginger grows very shallow and the mulch keeps them protected.
Watering: The soil needs to stay moist but not wet. Over watering will cause the roots to rot. Well drained soil is a must.
Fertilization: When the plants emerge and the first shoots are 10 cm high I start to use liquid fertilizer on a 4 weekly basis. If they are light in colour I sometimes add a couple of handfuls of Dynamic Lifter under the mulch.
Pests and Diseases: I have not had any trouble with pests or disease in six years. Sometimes snails or slugs will have a bite or two of the young shoots, but nothing a big boot will not fix.
Harvesting (Autumn): In March I start to scratch around and snap off bits as I need them. The ginger is young and tender and really nice at this stage of their growth. The plants have plenty of growing to do still for another 8 weeks, so I only take a bit. In May, the plants start to die back and turn yellow. You may even see the odd flower or two as the season draws to an end. To dig, I place the fork about a foot away and gently lift the roots to loosen them in the soil. This gives me enough access to pull out the roots. I brush off most of the soil and then hose them off on the grass. With secateurs I trim off the stalks and fine roots.
Storing of root stock for next season: Select 4 or five of the biggest, healthiest and best looking pieces when you dig them in May. Brush off all the soil and let them dry for a couple of days out of the sun. I place them in a paper bag in the bottom of the pantry ready to replant the followings Spring.
Then the next year, I do it all again………