Growing your own ginger in your small space, as I do, is very easy if you can provide it with the correct conditions! As I've proven, you can grow kilos of your own fresh, organic ginger in your small space or Balcony.
Ginger is a warm climate spice or herb, like garlic or turmeric, it's an amazing superfood and features alot in Asian cuisine although my favourite is the simple pickled sushi ginger. It has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties and can be frightfully expensive to buy!
Ginger grows best in the summer and the best time to plant ginger is in mid-spring.
HOW TO SELECT AND PREPARE YOUR GINGER RHIZOME
Ginger is native to the Tropics so you want the temperature and moisture levels around the rhizome to be close to its natural habitat - you may find it difficult to sprout in colder or drier climates. They do like humidity.
Know your Growing Zone so that you can select the correct type of Ginger for your area and also plan when you should plant them . My Blog Know Your Growing Zone will help you determine this.
Buy a plump, healthy organic ginger root (rhizome) from the organic store or purchase from a reputable gardening online store such as Digger's Club.
Preparation of the rhizome
You can use it whole or cut it into 5–10cm pieces, making sure each section has an ‘eye’ or bud (the little knobbly bits), as this is where shoots will form.
Get the rhizome ready to plant by keeping it somewhere light like a kitchen ledge by the window until the "nodes" or "eyes” start to grow. This could take a couple of weeks and you will know when the rhizomes are ready because they begin to swell and turn a light yellow/green color.
Once the sprouting begins, cut the root into 5-10cm pieces with at least 1 “eye ”, the knobbly bit. Just like sprouting potatoes, each piece needs to have at least one growing node that will sprout. Let each cut end heal for a few hours or a day before planting otherwise the fresh wound which is wet may be the entry point of bacteria and may rot in the ground.
PLANTING YOUR RHIZOME PIECES
Fill a pot with premium potting mix which has the Australian Standards Red ticks on the bag or make your own potting mix. I have a Make Potting Mix at Home Recipe Card in the store! The best soil for ginger is loose, loamy, and rich in organic matter. Loamy soils allow water to drain freely, which will help prevent the rhizomes from becoming waterlogged.
Plant the rhizome 2cm deep. If planting smaller pieces, space them about 20cm apart. A 30cm container can comfortably support one large rhizome or three small ones. In my videos on instagram you will see how a #30 Root Pouch bag has provided so much Ginger, almost a kilo's worth!
In its natural climate, ginger is known to be grown in partial sun, so it’s a good idea that you keep your pot in a spot that receives full sun but shade in the afternoon.
SELECT YOUR POT
Planting ginger works exceptionally well in pots, be sure that if you are going to keep it in a pot, you give it plenty of room to grow. The pot needs to be at least 30cm wide and deep.
I use our Root Pouch Grow Bags to grow Ginger very successfully as they provide excellent drainage, are lightweight to be able to move the ginger to sun and shade during its growing seasons. Our #30 Litre bgas are a perfect size for a smaller crop or one of our larger bags will accomodate a larger crop of ginger. A larger bag folded down to provide the correct depth will allow the bag to be utilised for a larger plant when done as the bags are washable and re-usable.
WATERING YOUR GINGER
As with almost all the growing that takes place up here on the Balcony, an olla is the primary method for irrigating all of my plants. These terracotta vessels take the guess-work out of keeping your plants hydrated. My range of Grow Kits provide the best and most popular combo packs where you'll receive a Waterpot Olla and Root Pouch grow bag. Perfect for ginger growing. If you have room for a garden bed of ginger then do look up our Raised Garden Bed Mini Plots!
This works particularly well with ginger, as ginger's fleshy roots will quickly rot in waterlogged conditions and it also likes to be kept consistently moist (not wet!) after the growth starts. An olla from our range will ensure that over or under-watering does not happen. If not using an olla, allow the mix to dry out a bit between waterings. Gradually increase watering after the rhizomes shoot, which is usually a month or so after planting.
Mulch the soil well to retain soil moisture.
FERTILISING YOUR GINGER
Ginger requires soil that is rich in organic matter. You can top the pot with compost or well-rotted manure. You can apply all-purpose fertiliser during the growing season. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer on ginger, like a 10-20-20. Too much nitrogen will cause ginger plants to grow excessive foliage over root production, which will reduce rhizome yields.To be honest, because I started with excellent organic rich soil, I didn't fertilise my pots. except for a monthly dousing of liquid seaweed.
HARVESTING YOUR GINGER
Digging roots out annually and replanting will enhance harvest.Your ginger roots are going to be ready for harvest within 8-10 months, once the leaves start to become yellow. Stop watering once the green stems die down, let the soil dry out before harvesting.
Use your hands to gently pull out the outer rhizomes without disturbing the others if you like, or harvest the entire plant. In a pot situation it is more efficient to dump the whole bag out as space within the bag is tight to be rummaging around. The plants I grew in my raised garden bed were dug out using a spade and that video can be viewed on my Instagram. If you leave some rhizomes, the plant will continue to grow.
Enjoy and give it a go, I say! If I can do it, you can too!
Some simple words of truth about maximising your space in a small space garden situation. Sharing the love of small space growing with the clients of APIA Australia recently talking about how to build a thriving garden on your balcony. The most common gardening myth is that you need space to build a garden - let's bust that myth!