Either get some rhizomes (what we generally call the ‘root’) off someone already growing it – when the plant naturally re-shoots in early spring. Or you can get started using rhizomes from a Farmers Market or anywhere you can find it organically grown. Ginger likes filtered sunlight, warm humid weather and rich moist soil. Ginger doesn’t like frost, direct sunlight, strong winds or waterlogged soil.
Make sure you select fresh, plump rhizomes and look for pieces with well developed “eyes” or growth buds. If your garden has pretty nice soil then just dig in some compost and plant in late winter/early spring. Plant your ginger root five to ten centimetres deep, with the growing buds facing up. You can cut or break up the ginger rhizomes in little pieces with a couple of growing buds on each and plant them in different spots – 20-25cm apart. Or just plant the whole thing in one place. Ginger only grows to about two to three feet in height.
Near the end of summer the leaves will start to go yellowish brown as your ginger starts to die back. Once all the leaves have died down your ginger is ready for harvest.
You can now dig up the whole plant, break up the rhizomes and select a few nice ones with good growing buds for replanting. (The rhizomes that you replant or leave in the ground won’t need any water or attention until the weather warms up again.) If you’ve planted in a few different places then just dig up what you need, when you need it.
Keep what you need in the kitchen. Ginger keeps super fresh cut into small chunks and stored in brandy, or in a paper bag in the fridge. It’s a slow growing plant so resist the urge to harvest it for a year or two. Better to build up more rhizomes first.
The flowers of culinary ginger are green and not as gorgeous as some of the more spectacular flowering gingers (below right). If you are after great flowers get some of those rhizomes. They are grown exactly like the culinary ginger, just skip the harvest.
Btw, turmeric and galangal is grown in the same way. Plant them all at the same time for a satisfying harvest time