Growing Ginger : why Home-grown Ginger is better than Store-bought.

ginger root fresh from the home garden

There are benefits to growing your spices at home if you are able, and growing ginger is no exception. In fact, it is a perfect example of what we consider a primary plant in our garden. We live in the wet tropics of NE Australia where the climate is ideal for growing ginger and its close relatives in turmeric and galangal, so this article is written from personal experience. Our location is secondary though, because having ginger grown at home is possible in many locations and climates with limitations in colder climates.

The Benefits of Growing Ginger at Home.

Home-grown ginger offers numerous advantages over store-bought ginger. Firstly, it is fresher since it can be harvested at its peak ripeness. Store-bought ginger may have been sitting on shelves for weeks, causing flavor and nutritional loss.

Secondly, home-grown ginger has a more intense flavor. Using it immediately after picking ensures a potent ingredient that enhances culinary creations.

Thirdly, growing ginger at home allows control over cultivation. Avoiding pesticides and chemicals present in commercially grown ginger ensures a healthy and organic option.

Additionally, the satisfaction of growing your own ginger adds to the appeal. Experimenting with different varieties and flavors can be an exciting culinary endeavor for the foodies. In simple terms, home-grown ginger provides freshness, intense flavor, and control over cultivation, making it a superior choice to store-bought ginger.

fresh ginger root from a home garden
Fresh ginger just harvested from the home garden.

The Benefits of Ginger Rhizome Freshness

Culinary benefits of home-grown ginger.

The freshness of ginger rhizome is highly desirable for several reasons. The rhizome is the main part of the ginger plant that is harvested and used in cooking or for its medicinal properties.

When ginger rhizome is fresh, it not only has a crisp texture but also a more intense flavor profile, making it a preferred choice for many culinary enthusiasts. A milder flavor can be found when harvesting early or young ginger, before it has matured and the tops have died off.

One of the main reasons freshness is important is because it preserves the natural oils and compounds that give ginger its unique taste and aroma. These oils, such as gingerol, zingerone, and shogaol, are responsible for the pungent and spicy flavor of ginger.

As ginger rhizome ages, these compounds start to break down, resulting in a milder taste. By using fresh ginger, cooks can take advantage of the full range of flavors that ginger has to offer, creating dishes that are more vibrant and flavorful.

One thing to mention here is because home grown ginger is often stronger in flavor, you use less of it to obtain the desired taste. You can add more if needed but generally less rhizome is used in a dish without any loss of flavor.

home grown ginger in the garden
Having home grown ginger available makes for great cooking experimentation.

Medicinal and Health benefits of Ginger grown at home.

Fresh ginger rhizome also contains higher levels of beneficial compounds and nutrients. Ginger is known for its potential health benefits, such as its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties are due to the presence of bioactive compounds, such as gingerols, which have been studied for their potential therapeutic effects on various ailments.

When ginger rhizome is fresh, these compounds are at their highest concentrations, maximizing the potential health benefits of consuming ginger. Store-bought ginger can be quite old when it is available in some stores, limiting the health benefits in some cases.

Having the ability to go to your garden and harvest fresh rhizomes minutes before you cook and enjoy them is a wonderful thing to any foodie or home cook.

Furthermore, fresh ginger rhizome retains its crisp texture, which is especially important in certain dishes where a crunchy element is desired. Fresh is really the best.

Growing Organic and pesticide free

We grow our ginger in a permaculture system. What this means is our yard and garden is a bio-dynamic system where all things are growing to benefit as many other plants and elements as possible. By using chemicals and pesticides, a lot of harm and damage can be done to the natural processes that take place in the soil. Quality soil gives quality produce.

Ginger is a primary soil conditioner that is able to be grown with all other plants that we have on site. We have found ginger and turmeric to be fantastic companion plants within our garden. We do not use pesticides and use limited amounts of organic fertilizers, and that ensures the best quality ginger that holds all the beneficial nutrients that give it it’s great eating and health qualities.

Home-grown Gingers Superior Flavor

Anyone who has tasted fresh ginger, like being harvested an hour ago fresh, will tell you that it is strong but full of flavor. It can be a little bit sweet at the same time, depending on your soil condition.

fresh ginger rhizome grown in a home garden

There really is no comparison between home-grown ginger and store-bought, mainly because of the probability that commercially grown ginger is grown with chemical inputs in weary soil. Growing ginger at a price is not the same as growing ginger for quality, and something has to give in this comparison.

It is noticeable in the flavor. You can get far better flavor from your ginger by treating it with the best soil and composting it regularly.

This article explains how we approach growing ginger in our yard and this article also details companion plants for ginger that we use to our benefit. These articles can fill in details to allow for better yields with less work.

Thinking Sustainability

Sustainable home-grown ginger

There is nothing more satisfying than walking out the door and picking fresh ginger from right in your garden. Growing ginger at home is the first step towards being self-sufficient in this spice, and saving a good amount of rhizome to be planted the following year allows this process to continue indefinitely.

It truly is a great way to think sustainably. There are zero road miles, no processing costs, no profit margins to be charged, and no questions of the quality or freshness. Apply this thinking to as many foods as will grow in your area reliably and you are way ahead.

Commercial ginger from the store

As with all foods, road miles matter. There are built-in costs that cannot be avoided when buying food from a store. There are also un-spoken costs via the environmental costs that are paid by the soil and the soil life as they grow our food.

The more the soil becomes depleted of nutrients the more the farmer has to apply chemicals to make up the shortfall, and the ginger quality suffers because of it.

Here in Queensland, Australia, there is a part of the state where commercial ginger is grown, and they have pushed the limit of production to the point where the soil is now pushing back through soil-borne diseases that limit the yield of the farms.

The answer to this problem is always more chemicals, but notice that I didn’t say the solution, because the chemicals just buy another period of time before the next outbreak occurs. A solution would suggest permanence, or similar.

Store bought ginger can be used as a starter root to get you growing ginger at home, but there are things to look out for as noted here.

Home-grown can be Cost effective

There are rising costs to grow, harvest, transport, and then process any food, spice, or vegetable, and these costs are sooner or later passed onto the consumer, making the food dollar less effective. Growing ginger at home short-circuits this entire process leaving more cash in your pocket.

We approach food growing with this mindset, that every food item we grow allows us to not spend that money, and taken one step further, that not needing to spend that money allows us to not have to earn that money, giving us more time to do things that are beneficial to our permaculture system.

This then allows us to grow more food, lessening the requirement for more cash again. This does have its limits, naturally, but it certainly helps a lot in these times.

Control over the ginger quality

The gardener has control of the quality of the produce. If you grow organically, you would already be aware of the soil and soil-life, and how it all ticks. This is the method we use here at the tropical homestead.

We are always working on improving the soil by composting and natural fertilizer use. By doing this we are mimicking the natural conditions that ginger plants prefer, and this takes the heavy lifting and guess work from us.

By following permaculture principles, we can maintain great quality, and increase quantity at the same time, all while helping other plants that grow with the ginger in our yard. There is no downside here. We can harvest a few kilos of ginger at any time and not diminish the supply or harm the garden in any way.

Personal satisfaction and education

This may surprise you, but growing ginger can be quite educational. When you are growing ginger in an organic setting with good soil covered with quality mulch, often there is a world of microscopic lifeforms that co-habituate with the ginger plant that are really interesting to observe.

All of these little bugs have a purpose in your garden, and they all play a part in giving you high quality ginger to enjoy. When you eventually harvest your ginger, don’t be surprised to find many of these critters tangled up with the rhizomes as you lift them. Spare a thought of the intricacies of the soil as you do this. It can be humbling.

There can be a great deal of personal satisfaction when you finally prepare a meal that includes your home-grown ginger. It takes a good few months from planting to harvest, and to enjoy the flavor for the first time is something you will remember.

Ability to explore different edible ginger varieties

Common ginger is the variety that most people know about and use, however there are several varieties that are edible, and they all have different flavors and growing habits. We have several articles that detail many of these varieties, so we won’t go into much detail here other than to say that they are worth investigation. A short list can be found here that details gingers suitable to small spaces, while this list gives plants suitable for larger areas in the home garden.

We all like Convenience and availability

There is nothing like convenience. It is how the world turns these days, or so it seems. Having a fresh supply of home-grown ginger to take from as needed is a fantastic way to harness convenience in your favor, and with appropriate planning you should never run low of your own ginger supply. Having ginger available when you want it or need it is priceless.

Article by Tim Blanch for He is a qualified Permaculture designer.