Many people find fresh ginger making a weekly appearance on their grocery list. No wonder, the versatility ginger has in all sorts of recipes and the wide array of health benefits it can provide. If you find yourself regularly restocking up on fresh, store-bought ginger, you may want to consider growing your own. Growing fresh ginger at home can be convenient, save you money, and guarantee the freshest flavor in your kitchen.
Can you grow store-bought ginger? Yes, you can use fresh ginger bought at the grocery store to sprout and grow your own plant at home. By choosing a good piece of ginger and creating the right conditions, store-bought ginger will grow sprouts, which can be potted and grown into new plants.
Growing ginger takes some patience, but overall, it is a fairly simple and easy process. Finding a good piece of ginger to sprout and knowing how to care for the sprouts is the most critical component of a thriving ginger plant.
The Root of Ginger
Ginger is often referred to as a root, but it is more accurately called a rhizome. A rhizome is a stem that grows under the surface of the soil. Since it is a stem, it has nodes and can grow other stems as well. This will be important in growing your own ginger!
Ginger can be traced back to China’s southern parts, where the plant was first recognized for its potential uses as a spice and medicine. Ginger made its way to India soon after and remained a staple ingredient in traditional Chinese and Indian cuisine to this day. Ginger grew in popularity as traders introduced it to Mediterranean regions. The value of ginger eventually reaching that of a live sheep or piece of livestock!
Not only was ginger widely sought for its zesty flavor, but also for its medicinal uses. The Chinese were the first to use ginger medicinally. The medicinal use of ginger would become well-recognized world-wide, and they persist today, so we’re quite the discovery. Ginger can be used as a digestive aid, calming an upset stomach. The plant has also been used to prevent cold and flu symptoms and treat colic.
Today, with modern research, we have confirmed the soothing effects of ginger on digestion and found other health benefits of ginger, such as powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
There are many ways ginger is produced and eaten, including freshly grated or chopped, in a paste, dried, and powdered. All of these ginger products can be used to cook with. Ginger is also commonly made into tea. Ginger can also be made into sweet treats, such as suck-on or chewy candies. Today India is the largest producer of ginger with 1,109,00 tons of ginger production annually!
Eyes on Ginger
If you are ready to begin sprouting a ginger plant of your own, there’s a bit more to remember while at the grocery store than just ‘pick up ginger!’ Most ginger roots you buy will sprout under the right conditions, but there are characteristics you can look for that will promote better sprouting conditions.
First, a quick ginger anatomy lesson! You will want to be familiar with these features of ginger while reading the directions in this post and shopping for your ginger.
This is the part of the plant you buy at the grocery store and are looking to harvest yourself at home. You can think of this as the whole piece of ginger. The rhizome is the most valuable part of the plant. The rhizome comes in funny shapes with knobby growths and a pale skin on the outside. The inside is bright yellow and fleshy. Ginger is used by peeling off the skin and using the fleshy inside where the vitamins, minerals, and flavor are.
Fingers describe the knobby growths that separate themselves from the center of the rhizome.
Eyes are little buds at the end of the fingers. These little guys are the start of sprouts coming out of the rhizome. At the grocery store, you will want to select a plump well hydrated piece of ginger to get your plant started. Look closely at the ginger and try to find a piece that has many fingers and, if possible, some eyes beginning to grow.
Organic ginger is great for re-growing, but not a necessity. Ginger is not usually sprayed with anti-sprouting chemicals, so any ginger should be able to sprout given the right conditions.
Once you have your perfect piece of ginger, this is where the patience mentioned earlier comes in.
- You will want to sit your ginger somewhere safe, like on your kitchen counter, where it will get some sunlight.
Some may suggest submerging the root in water, but that is not necessary. The change in environment will shock the plant, slowing down the sprouting process, and the air is good for the rhizome as well. The rhizome may begin to look different and dry, but it does not need water just yet. Now, you wait. Let the ginger sit until for the eyes to grow into more developed sprouts. This will take days.
- Once your ginger begins to have sprouts, you will want to cut small sections of the ginger where it has eyes the off whole piece. The pieces you cut off will be what you pot to grow a brand-new ginger plant.
- Since ginger is a rhizome, not a true root, it should be planted near the surface of the soil. This allows for an adequate amount of fresh air to reach the plant. You will want to face the eyes upwards towards the top of the soil to make it easiest for them to shoot up.
Ginger needs to be ‘fed’ with nutrients and needs plenty of moisture to prevent drying. You will want to use loose soil that is rich and provides nutrients.
The soil also needs to have moderate drainage to keep the ginger from drying out, but without becoming waterlogged with frequent waterings. If you have good soil in your garden, mixing it with some compost should do the trick!
Pick a spot for the plant that gets indirect or filtered light. Too much light can dry out the plant and soil.
These growing conditions may sound like a bit much, but they boil down to a breathable, but rich soil, a healthy amount of moisture, and filtered sunlight. Once you have your ginger planting conditions perfected, the plant is easy to care for. Most important to caring for the ginger plant is consistently watering. You can also fertilize the plant monthly to ensure it is getting enough nutrients as well.
Growing Ginger Indoors vs. Outdoor
Ginger can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Outdoors has the benefits of air circulation natural humidity, and lots of room to grow, but also has potential risk factors like harsh weather or creatures.
Ginger can grow very well in pots, making indoor growing suitable as well. Since the rhizome grows in the soil, a spacious pot is very important. By supplying inadequate space to grow under the soil, you will hinder the rhizome and get less ginger than you were likely hoping for.
You will also want to make sure the pot is able to drain, so the soil does not become too moist.
If you opt to keep your ginger potted and indoors, bathrooms or kitchens make great spots to grow ginger, given they have enough sunlight. The extra humidity in these rooms can be helpful to the plant.
Where you grow, ginger is entirely up to you! Whatever best fits your gardening space and preferences can work if the plant is properly cared for.
How Long Does Ginger Need to Grow?
You can harvest your ginger at any time, but the longer you let it grow, the more rhizome you will find. The best time to harvest a ginger plant is when the plant is 8 to 10 months old. At this point, the plant should be at full maturity.
To harvest the plant, you will be removing the rhizome from the soil. So, to continue growing more ginger, you will need to save some of the rhizomes to replant.
Ginger is a great addition to any garden and a useful herb to have at your disposal. Growing your own ginger is much simpler than one may assume. The plant may look a bit rough on the outside, but it is quite easy going! With the amazing flavor, health benefits, and simple upkeep, there is no reason to go without fresh ginger at your home!