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Getting ginger root to grow instead of rotting or drying out -- how?  RSS feed

 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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We have several old threads (see "similar threads" list at the bottom of this one) about growing ginger, but none of them cover the problem that I seem to be having.

Which is this: I'd like to grow some ginger. I'm inspired every year in the spring when the tired old ginger rhizomes at my local supermarkets start to sprout -- the growth "buds" on the ginger root begin to swell and turn a bright fresh green that's visually very attractive compared to the grey dusty appearance of the old roots.

The stuff is sprouting. It wants to grow. I bring it home and leave in the sunshine, the growth buds get even bigger and greener.

But no matter what I've tried, I cannot manage any sort of transition from "sprouting ginger on my windowsill" to "ginger plant growing in soil".

Yes, I am a terrible gardener. But what seems to happen is that the growth bud never does anything more. Eventually the rhizome either shrivels up and fades away, or it rots rather suddenly. Either way, no roots, no foliage, no plant.

I've tried planting the sprouting rhizome deeply (some sites say 10cm!) and I've tried planting them shallowly, sometimes with the growth bud exposed and sometimes with it buried. I've kept the soil dry, I've kept it moist. Never a plant. I can find lots of "just plant the rhizome and it will grow" how-to articles on the web, along with standard advices about rich soil, good drainage, and filtered sunshine. Being a terrible gardener it's possible I've tried the right planting regime but failed in the execution processes. What I'm hoping for in this thread is some more detail from someone who does this routinely. How exactly do you handle a rhizome that wants to grow so that it turns into an actual living plant instead of a little pile of buried goo and/or dried-out fibers?

Thanks!
 
Su Ba
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I don't know the answer. I've noticed that with my own ginger here in Hawaii it goes through a dormancy stage period prior to sprouting. But that doesn't sound like your problem. Perhaps the commercial supplier to your store has treated the ginger with some sort of anti-sprouting chemical? I guess I'd try to get some certified organic ginger from a health food type store, where the organic claim may be more valid. That shouldn't be anti-sprout treated.
 
Dan Boone
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Thanks! I thought of that, but... this stuff is already sprouting! I mean, plenty of ginger at the store never develops those buds, even if I set it on my windowsill for months. So I have always assumed (this may be where I'm going wrong) that the stuff I find with active buds is the stuff that didn't get sprayed. (And some of it has been sourced in organic stores of varying quality, which I took as supporting that theory.)

Could be there's something wrong with my assumptions. Maybe the stuff I've tried got sprayed and is growth-retarded but not entirely prevented from showing signs of sprouting, or something like that.
 
Marianne Hay
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Location: Norfolk County, Ontario
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I've seen, but sorry didn't pay to much attention to, posts on facebook about sprouting ginger in water. Check out New Leaf Co-op. Good luck!
 
R Scott
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My daughter is really good at it. My luck is like yours.

It needs to be good rich compost or potting soil that drains well. Moist but not wet. Kept in shade. Warm.
 
Marco Banks
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I've had success by planting my ginger under the shade of trees or on the north side of our house where it only gets 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight. This is good, as this space really isn't useful for most other veggies.

The soil is VERY rich in decayed organic matter (wood chips that have decomposed and have been replenished for years). So because there is so much humus, it both drains well as well as retains a consistent moist environment for the ginger to stay hydrated while it roots. I don't fertilize it until it is up about a foot or so, as the soil is already so rich. If your soil doesn't drain well, perhaps you could put a couple of handfuls of sand and compost down in your planting hole before you set the ginger in place.

I think that maintaining uniform moisture is important. If your soil isn't rich in organic matter (carbon), then heavily amend your soil with compost.

Also, it needs to be above 55 degrees consistently for ginger to really take off and start growing well.

I've not had luck growing ginger in pots. I think that the uneven moisture and uneven temperature adversely effects it.
 
Dan Boone
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I begin to see where I have been going wrong. My default soils are neither rich nor well-drained, but keeping them moist in the weather regimes we have is not easy either. I think I'm going to have to build a heavily-amended bed with lots of the rich black wormy wood chips at the bottom of my old chips pile, then mulch it to a fare-thee-well. Thanks for the tips!
 
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