Growing Ginger…Continued

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I was intrigued by the idea of growing ginger so I bought a root that was sprouting and planted it in a container. Once it was snuggled down into some dark, moist compost I set the pot inside my conservatory and then waited and waited for it to start growing. After two months it finally sprouted a tiny bud and I thought it wouldn’t be long before it began sending up tall green stalks. However two weeks after that the rhizome started to shrivel and fall in on itself and so that experiment ended. I was disappointed but such is life when you’re trying to grow new plants.

I use ginger fairly regularly so continued to buy large pieces of it which I tend to store in the fruit basket in the kitchen until it’s cut. It never occurred to me to try growing ginger from the shop since it’s generally sprayed with an anti-sprouting compound which is supposed to make it useless for propagation. So you can imagine my surprise when the pieces I bought in June decided that they wanted to grow! Beautiful green buds with clearly visible leaf scales were sprouting up in several places along the top of the ginger.

Buds sprouting on store-bought ginger

Deciding to give the experiment another go, I settled some of it into the same pot I’d tried growing the seed-rhizome. Watering the ginger well I put it back in the conservatory and waited to see if it would continue to grow…or go the same way as the first one. I was delighted when just after a month one of the stalks grew to about six inches in height and another one was just beginning to put on height. Now two months on there are two green stalks well over a meter tall and the rhizomes are beginning to produce fresh new ginger. Even though it doesn’t have long to grow this year I’m still thinking of transplanting it to see if it will put on more bulk before the season is out.

After one month green stalks started to shoot up

I’ve had another look online and found that Kew Gardens gives some fairly detailed instructions on growing ginger in the UK. Apparently it’s grown more as an annual and they also say that ginger from shops sprouts readily – go figure. A clue to why my first rhizome didn’t do that well can also be found on their page; the plants tend not to survive British winters due to low temperature and light conditions. I’m guessing that because I planted the first rhizome so early it really didn’t have enough of either. Oh B&Q why are you selling this product so early and why didn’t you provide this information on the packet? It goes to show that you’ve got to get your information from more than once source when it comes to growing anything new.

Two-month old ginger shoots

Now that I’m in the know I’ll be watching for when my ginger foliage begins dying back, after which I’ll be able to harvest the entire rhizome. Come February I’ll be ready to start the process again by keeping a look-out for decent chunks of sprouted ginger at the supermarket – no more fussing with seed-rhizomes for me. With this new-found knowledge and with a few extra months of growth I think I can expect an easier and much larger harvest next autumn.

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  1. Michelle Gifford says:

    I grew ginger from store bought pieces last year in a barrel with homemade compost on the bottom and decomposing hay that I had grown veggies in the year before. I think the hay was plenty of growing medium and allowed the rhizomes to “breathe” and not run the risk of rotting. They made the most beautiful potted plant at the edge of the vegetable garden. In December before it got too cold (in Texas), I harvested the most abundant and delicious ginger! It was all an experiment and was a delightful surprise! I planted it again about 3 weeks ago, but no shoots yet… Happy gardening!

  2. Anonymous says:

    BTW, the above comment is mine (Adela Olivero Grassi) but I had to send it as anonymous, otherwise it wouldn't be sent. What am I supposed to select as profile? Thank you

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Tanya!

    I'm kind of confused. Something like a month ago I saw James Wong teaching how to grow ginger. He buried the rhizome under 1 inch of soil more or less. You just put it on top of it. I planted mine (JW's method)3 weeks ago and have been taking good care of it but I think I have to wait a long time before they sprout. Should I take it out and place it on top like you did? Thank you.

  4. So glad I've caught up and found this post! I'm amazed and hankering to have a go myself now :)

    1. We'll compare notes next year then :) Amazingly mine are still putting on extra growth since these photos were taken. I'll bet that if we're able to start the plants off by early May then there's a chance at taking quite a harvest by autumn.

  5. Hi Tanya,
    I'm trying to grow ginger which I bought from the store now. I soaked it overnight to throw away all chemicals before wrapping it in newspaper. It has been a week now. Still waiting for the first sprout.
    You did well! Way to go!

    1. Soaking it in water sounds like a sound plan to me! Mine didn't seem to need anything other than some sunshine to sprout but maybe if I'd have placed it in a bit of water it might have sprouted earlier? Something to think about for next year me thinks… Thanks for stopping by and telling us about your experiment Ash :)

  6. I live in tropical Australia where ginger grows wild. Even here it goes semi dormant in the winter, but I harvest about half my crop and leave the rest in the ground. If you can keep the dormant pot in the hothouse or some protected area for the winter I think it will have a headstart come summer.

    1. That makes a lot of sense…I may just lift some of the tubers and plant inside a larger pot though. Thanks for dropping by with the tip :)

  7. Liquineer says:

    Hi Tanya- I grew shop bought ginger a few years ago when I spotted a sprout growing as well. It threw up shoots like yours, then at the end of the year it died off. I grew it in my office where i worked. Now I know it does die off in this country at the end of the season, I will probably have another go- I buried my root, but I picked up from your earlier experiment that it likes to be at the surface, so that was a good learning.

    1. Hi there Liquineer! I thought the tubers looked like those of Irises so planted them at the surface the second time. The directions on the store-bought ginger was to cover the tuber completely but I suspect that it's one of the reasons my first tuber began to rot.

      Good luck on your second go! I'm looking forward to trying it out again next year too :)

  8. Hi Tanya, interesting that you should post about ginger this week because yesterday I went to a workshop on 'exotic herbs and spices' and we had the opportunity to pot up some ginger and turmeric. Growing these two will be a new experience – fingers crossed.

    1. Tumeric…how interesting! James Wong presented some home-grown Tumeric on his programme last year was it? Apparently it's quite good for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

  9. I would never have thought ginger purchased from the grocery store would sprout. We used to have ginger growing in our yard when we lived in Hawaii. I'll have to try the potted version!

    1. I didn't think it could either…it's amazing how many veggies at the store can continue growing. It's a good sign really!

  10. I found this post interesting, as I just a few weeks ago placed a piece of ginger in water to see if it would sprout. When it did, I transferred to a small pot and it is doing fine. I will overwinter it in my conservatory. Am so excited to be growing my own. Thanks for the post!

    1. Sprouting in water works for tons of plants and large seeds but quite a few plants don't take very well to being put in the soil afterwards. Apparently the physiology of the roots is different when they sprout in water vs soil. I'll be interested to see how yours comes on though…maybe you can stop by with an update? Many thanks Sandra :)

  11. That's funny, I assumed that you knew what you were doing and planted some ginger in a pot after I saw your post! I liked the idea of planting it in a pot, because I was able to move it into my greenhouse over winter. I have planted it in the garden and it seems to die off in winter and go dormant, growing back towards the end of summer, but I never get much to harvest. I wonder how you managed to grow such a massive bulb on your one! I was trying to grow it because we go through a lot of homemade ginger ale and it seems silly to keep buying it when we are (almost) in the right climate to grow it. Anyway, I shall keep trying and if you learn anything new, please update us all! (I also followed your instruction for striking lavender cuttings, at that seems to have worked too :) )

    1. I think it liked the compost I potted it in…it's just a 100% organic peat-free mix. I didn't do much research into growing the ginger but it seems to really like growing in the pot!

      That's wonderful that your lavender cuttings worked as well! It's amazing to get so many new plants for free isn't it? So many plants can be propagated that way and there has been more than one instance of me 'liberating' a piece of plant while out and about this summer. Tip: always keep a ziplock bag and small scissors in your handbag…just in case ;)

  12. I love ginger and buy quite a lot. I have always kept mine in the fridge…I think next year though I may have a go at this…and it is a lovely looking plant!!

    1. I don't bother refrigerating mine until it's cut – I figure that it's sold at room temperature so doesn't really require any cooling. And thanks to that I was able to accidentally sprout it :)

      Have fun trying this out yourself Tanya – I agree that the foliage looks lovely. I can see a new trend in 'House Plants' heading our way!