Why you should grow ginger in your garden
If you’re a ginger fan, you can harvest your own home-grown crops and enjoy some spice in your winter dishes.
Growing your own ginger isn’t too difficult so long as you respect its need for a bit of warmth. That’s easy if you live in a frost-free area, but you will require pots or tubs to be kept in a glasshouse, tunnel house, conservatory or other available warm spot if your climate is cooler. You’ll also need a rich, moist, well-drained soil for planting segments out in spring, about 5cm below the surface.
VARIETIES IN NZ
This is a selection of ginger plants available in New Zealand. Beware not to plant the invasive species, and always triple check that what you are buying is actually what is should be as some gingers look very similar.
1. Chinese ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Yellow spikey flowers, juicy plump rhizomes (root), can be harvested year round once plant is established, non-invasive.
2. Finger root, krachai, Chinese ginger (Boesenbergia rotunda)
Likes a hot climate and sandy soil, needs lots of moisture, has long, finger-like rhizomes, leaves, stems and rhizome/roots are all edible.
3. Japanese or myoga ginger (Zingiber mioga)
Cold-tolerant and hardy ginger plant with edible shoots and flower buds, likes a damp soil and some shade, dies down over winter, can spread quickly.
4. Thai ginger, ginger galangal (Alpinia galangal)
Up to 2m
This is a popular member of the ginger family used in Thai cooking. Has very aromatic rhizomes that have a hint of pine, flowers have a red tinge (if you can get them to flower). Also available as a white-flowered variety with a more delicate flavour.
5. Shampoo, bitter ginger (Zingiber zerumbet darcyi)
Up to 1.2-1.5m
Gorgeous variegated leaves in green and cream, with flower cones full of a milky mucous which can be used as shampoo.
1. Use & re-use your ginger. Edible gingers grown in a pot are easy to harvest and store: tip the pot and its contents out onto the lawn to harvest a bit for dinner, then pop back in the pot and keep caring for it until next time you need to cook with ginger.
2. Unpeeled fresh ginger, wrapped in foil, can also be stored in the freezer for up to two months.
DON’T PLANT THESE GINGERS