With ginger prices hitting record highs in recent years (one supermarket was charging $72 a kilo at the end of 2021), you may be thinking of trying to grow it yourself.
According to ABC Radio Perth gardening expert Sabrina Hahn, it’s not difficult, it just takes patience and the right conditions.
If you can grow garlic in your garden, you can probably grow ginger too, although if you’re in a place like Perth it will need more attention than in a hot, humid place like Queensland.
“If you are going to grow ginger in the ground, I recommend digging a deep trench – it should be 12 inches deep and about 20 inches wide,” says Sabrina.
“Fill that trench with compost and coco peat, then mix in some manure for dressing.”
The part of your plant that you are growing to eat is the rhizome, which is not the root but a part of the stem of the plant that grows underground.
“You can buy edible ginger at nurseries that sell palm trees and ferns,” says Sabrina. (Make sure you don’t buy ornamental ginger!)
Here are some other varieties:
- Ginger Myoga (Zingiber mioga): grows best in cooler climates like Melbourne or Hobart. Only the buds and flower buds are edible.
- Puyang ginger (zingiber aromaticum): grows in the tropics of Darwin and Cairns.
After planting, settle in to wait and keep watering.
“You have to allow the rhizomes to grow and you need a minimum of two years,” she says.
“You really shouldn’t harvest until the third year.”
That’s because when you harvest, you’re cutting into the root system of the ginger and you need to make it big enough that you can cut a little off to eat without killing the whole plant, forcing you to start over.
You can also plant the rootstock itself if you purchase one that is organic and has not been bleached or processed in any way.
If you’re going to do that, wait until the end of October when it’s warm, then plant it horizontally below about 5cm of soil.
“Ginger needs a lot of water in the summer, so you put it in a ditch or grow it in a pot,” says Sabrina.
“It grows very well in a pot.”
When you are ready to harvest, do so in late summer.
“Don’t harvest in the fall or winter because the rhizome can rot,” she says.
“Just take out a bread knife and cut off a piece.”
Once you’ve waited years to harvest, you probably want it to last.
Ginger will stay fresh for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Store it in a resealable bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator if you use it frequently.
If you only use ginger occasionally, store it in the freezer and grate it as needed. Just be aware that if it ages, it will develop a more stringy skin that will require peeling, and its flavor will become more intense.
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