How to grow ginger

21 September 2021
I just checked my local Woolworths online and fresh ginger is currently $45 a kilo! If you use a lot of ginger in your food and drinks, it would probably be worth investing some some time and energy in growing six months worth of ginger.  

There are a few fresh herbs that pay off in the home garden too. If you're like me and use a lot of herbs in your home cooking, you will save money if you set yourself up with your favourite herbs either in the garden or in a few pots in the sunshine near the back door.  Fresh herbs cost $3 each per bunch here, so if you use parsley, green onions, thyme, basil, or whatever, you'd spend $20 just on herbs every week. If you buy a bag of potting mix and some seedlings, it might cost $20 - $30 but you'd grow herbs all year with that. If you buy four bunches of herbs every week for a year at $20, you'll spend over one thousand dollars just on herbs.

This is the ginger I harvested last week.  You can see one green bud just left of centre.

But let's get back to ginger. I grow it mainly for baking and drinks. In a warm climate, it's easy to grow and it's one of those crops that you can leave in the ground for a while. It will not tolerate frosts so if you're likely to get frosts, grow the ginger outdoors until the cold weather arrives and then move the pot to a sunny warm place to continue growing. It will take 6 - 9 months for ginger to reach maturity and be ready for harvest. The colder the climate, the longer it takes.

    1. Buy ginger to plant from either your local plant nursery or look for healthy ginger, preferably with green buds or small shoots, at the market. If you buy a big piece, you can cut it into smaller 3 - 5 cm pieces to plant out.
    2. The best pot is a wide pot that isn't too tall.  I use an old baby bath (see photo below) and it's the ideal size.  Place the pot in a sunny spot out of the wind
    3. Fill the pot with good quality potting mix, NOT garden soil, with some compost or old cow manure added.
    4. Plant with the bud or shoot up, about about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart.  Water in well.  Keep an eye on them until the ginger send up shoots and don't let them dry out.  Water about 3 - 4 times a week in a hot climate and less in a colder place. 
    5. Fertilise every two weeks with a weak liquid fertiliser such as homemade comfrey fertiliser, an organic liquid or seaweed solution.
    6. They'll be ready to harvest when the shoots are about 3 feet/1 metre tall and they begin to die back. Harvest the entire plant and cut off a few pieces to replant for your followup crop.  Do that straight away.


This is the ginger I grow in an enamel baby's bath.






Grating ginger to make ginger syrup. I use this in hot black tea during winter or with icy cold mineral water in summer. 


Ginger can stay in the ground for a couple of weeks if you can't harvest straight away, or dig them up, clean them thoroughly and store in the freezer, unpeeled. They'll last well for about six months.


Ginger Beer
If you want a real treat, especially at Christmas, make a batch of ginger beer.  It used to be a very popular drink at Christmas in Australia when I was growing up.  Here is my recipe, with photos.   


Ginger Syrup
To make ginger syrup, simply grate or finely chop a large piece of ginger root, you'll need at least a cup full of ginger. Don't get too precious with the amounts - it doesn't have to be exact.

To 2 litres of water add two cups of sugar and bring to the boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the ginger and simmer the mix for an hour. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the saucepan, and leave it sitting on the stove overnight to develop flavour.

The next day, pour the mix through a fine strainer to remove the ginger pulp and store the liquid in a sealed, sterilised bottle. Use this mix as you would use any cordial - a small amount mixed with cold tap water or mineral water. Generally this is about one part syrup to four parts water but the amount you use will depend on your own taste. Experiment until you find the right balance. It can be stored in the  fridge.

Don't throw out the ginger pulp, you'll get a second batch from it. Collect the used ginger, add it back to the saucepan and use half the amount of water and sugar you used for the first batch. The process is the same - bring to the boil, simmer for an hour, turn the heat off and leave the mix on the stove overnight. Bottle the following day.

Good luck with your gingers!


16 comments

  1. How interesting about the ginger, Rhonda! I don't like ginger well enough to grow my own but it certainly was fun reading about it here on your blog. ~Andrea xoxoxo

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  2. I'm so glad you posted this! I have ginger I have grown for over a year because I wasn't sure when to harvest it. I live in USA, in the state of Ohio, which sees all four seasons and gets down to zero and below in the Winter. I thought the ginger would follow my season, but in early Spring, all the leaves died. I thought the plant died and let it be. Then it started growing again, only bigger! Now I realize I need to harvest it when it's ready! I plant it out in the early Summer and bring inside before frost. Thanks for the information. Has yours ever bloomed? I'd love to see it bloom, but mine hasn't done it so far. I got organic root at the grocery store and didn't get around to using it right away. I noticed a few green buds and planted it. It must be about two years old now.

    Darlene

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    1. The tops die back but the rhizome continues to grow, Darlene. You harvest them every 9 months, or thereabouts. Cut off the shoots or green buds when you harvest the ginger and they can be replanted for the followup crop.

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  3. Oh, I love ginger! Thanks for all of this information, Rhonda. I'm going to try it. I drink a lot of ginger tea with honey. My intuition has been urging me to drink it regularly since Covid hit.

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    1. Ginger makes delicious healthy drinks, both hot and cold. I love it. xx

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  4. Thankyou for re-sharing your ginger beer recipe - I love it and so do the kids, so I will be sure to give it a go (but probably have to be with the $45 a kilo ginger!).

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    1. Paula, when I don't have fresh ginger, I buy a fresh bottle of ginger powder and use that. It's not as nice as the fresh ginger but it's still a good drink.

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    2. Thankyou - certainly a more affordable option

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  5. I've wanted to learn how to grow ginger because we love ginger ale. I'm heading into fall here in North America. Can I grow it indoors? I assume you can just harvest & plant again year round if you protect it from the cold?

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    1. Jenny, I doubt you could grow it indoors. It's a tropical plant. However, if I were you, I'd try it. That's how I learnt to do a lot of things. I just try, I always push the envelope. I think you could start off in spring and grow the ginger until winter, then bring it indoors to a sunny spot to finish off. But I don't know if you could grow it indoors for the entire process. I hope you can and if you do, let me know.

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  6. Rhonda, Thank you so much for this column and information. This is wonderful! Can't wait to get started! I love ginger, more as I've aged.

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  7. My next door neighbour harvested a huge lot of ginger last year and I kept it in the freezer for use over the year. This year he gave me a whole bunch more and some to plant so I've planted ginger for the first time ever.

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  8. Rhonda I have been making your ginger syrup for a few years now. I do a 2nd slightly weaker batch with the same ginger, as you suggest.
    Then I freeze the grated used ginger in ice cube trays and use it in my cooking. It works fine and there is not one bit of that precious ginger wasted.

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  9. I did it! thanks to you Rhonda, I made a jar of ginger syrup! first time ever -- I love ginger and no one else does, so I can add this to many things. thank you!

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  10. So nice to grow your own ginger! Thanks for sharing your gardening 🌱 tipsπŸ’‘πŸ˜Š!

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