Grow Ginger on Your Porch

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Ginger, Planting Techniques | 0 comments

In the Southwest we use chilies to add heat to nachos, chicken, ribs, and just about every other food. But before chilies were discovered in the Americas, the world was getting its flavor kicks from ginger, a spicy tropical root. For a home-grown taste of the tropics try planting some on your patio or porch.

The roots (or rhizomes) of this Asian perennial have been used for centuries to provide the signature flavor in many foods of the region. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has almost bamboo-like stems growing three to four feet tall with narrow, glossy leaves. It produces yellow flowers with purple claws. After flowering, the stems die back to the ground. This familiar grocery store root has a buff to dark brown skin.

The modern name for this root is a derivative of the Sanskrit word “singabera”, which means “shaped like a horn,” an apt description of the thick rhizomes. As the spice spread westward “singabera” became “zingiberi” to the Greeks and “zingiber” to the Romans. When this thick root reached the western edge of Europe, the English slurred the syllables to give us “ginger”.

Growing Ginger In the Southwest

Ginger can be easily grown from fresh root purchased at grocery stores. Select firm, healthy looking rhizomes with no dried out or greenish-blue sections. Once you get it home, divide the root into several pieces, each with 2-3 growth buds. To reduce risk of rotting allow the cut ends to dry for several hours before planting.

In our hot, dry climate ginger is best grown in ceramic or plastic pots to prevent it from drying out during the summer. Use a rich tropical potting soil. Plant rhizomes 2-3” deep in a pot at least 12” in diameter. Keep the soil moist but not water-logged until the plant emerges from the soil, about ten days after planting.

Once the planted ginger root gets going it puts up green spears like this. When you see this poking though your potting soil, start fertilizing your new ginger plant.

Place your ginger pot in a spot where it can get at least four hours of sunlight. Shelter it from drying winds. During the heat of summer, move the ginger pots where it will get more shade. Fertilize monthly with a slow-release fertilizer to avoid burning the leaves. When fall arrives, bring your ginger indoors before cold temperatures arrive. It will die if exposed to near-freezing temperatures.

If you live in a very dry region, try growing ginger indoors. Avoid placing it where it will be exposed to blasts from heating vents in winter. For healthy growth, mist the ginger leaves to compensate for the dry indoor air and use a grow light to supplement the natural light. And of course, keep the potting mix evenly moist as you would any tropical plant.

Harvesting For Use

One section of ginger will produce three to six rhizomes (those thick sections of root). The rhizomes can be harvested for use any time. In an established bed or pot remove the roots on the edge. Clean them and allow the outer skin to dry before using in the kitchen.

When you slice ginger root, be sure to use a sharp knife to cut through the fibrous sections.

Ginger roots are very fibrous. They require a sharp knife and a strong hand to slice or grate. When using whole pieces, be prepared to retrieve them out of sauces or stir-fry mixes before serving. It’s not any fun biting down on a tough section of ginger by mistake.

For a home-grown taste of the tropics try planting ginger. They’ll add sparkle to your garden and spice to your kitchen.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top 10 Posts

Bogus Gardening Advice, Part II

Bogus Gardening Advice, Part II

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my second helping of bogus garden hacks from an article I found online. The offending article was on one of those sites that claim to give the reader the “real facts” hitherto hidden from the average reader. It offered ten “gardening...

Bogus Gardening Advice, Part I

Bogus Gardening Advice, Part I

My beloved husband is always on the lookout for garden articles on the Internet that I might find interesting. Most of his discoveries are worthwhile. Recently however he forwarded a link to a page that had my blood boiling within minutes. The offending article was on...

Making a Rosemary Garland

Making a Rosemary Garland

With the cooling fall weather, herb gardeners are busy harvesting and prepping the garden for winter. This includes some trimming of the shrubs that may have exceeded their alloted space. If one of those shrubs is rosemary, don't toss the clipped branches. Instead...

Cinnamon Pecan Scones

Cinnamon Pecan Scones

Here in Texas the pecan tree is a native so nearly everyone has a source nearby for pecans. I the spirit of the Lone Star State here are some classic scones with cinnamon and pecan to add a flavor kick.

Adding Herbs to Tea

Adding Herbs to Tea

There's nothing quite as annoying to a confirmed tea lover as living in a Coffee Nation. Coffee is the default drink everywhere you go. This is never more obvious than when attending a banquet. Near the end of the meal, almost every waiter you see will be smiling and...

Snickerdoodles – the Original  and Five Variations

Snickerdoodles – the Original and Five Variations

Snickerdoodles contain cream of tartar, an item I never used in anything else. A little digging on the Internet revealed that cream of tartar was first discovered as a by-product of wine making. Crystals of cream of tartar (aka potassium bitartrate) form on...

Fall Garlic Planting – Do It Now!

Fall Garlic Planting – Do It Now!

By the end of October the gardening year is winding down to the quiet months of winter. There are a few tasks left to do but most gardeners are thinking fondly of the coming long winter's nap. But wait...there's just one more thing to plant. Now is the time to get...

Adding Herbs to a Fall Wreath

Adding Herbs to a Fall Wreath

At last, the grip of summer is loosening and the daytime highs are settling down. Next week I plan to bring out my fall swags and candles. The other day I was at my local craft store and bought a vine wreath to add to the fall decor. It's nice as-is but I just know I...

Seven Herbs For Tex-Mex Foods

Seven Herbs For Tex-Mex Foods

Those of us living in the Southwest know it's always time for cool drinks and the fiery flavors of Tex-Mex foods. Many of the ingredients can easily be grown in your garden, even if you don’t live in the Lone Star State. Here are...

Herb Roasted Vegetables

Herb Roasted Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a technique that is simple in execution and wonderful in results.  Most of us cook nearly everything at the moderate 350. This is fine for most baked goods and some casseroles but not for vegetables.  High heat carmelizes the outer layer of...

About Ann McCormick

I Believe

Books I Like