If you have ever considered growing ginger at home and wondered how much ginger root a plant will grow, this post explains how ginger grows and why this matters with ginger root yield.
A single ginger plant is grown from a rhizome section with leaf shoots coming from it, and this section can be as little as ten grams and 25mm long. It can produce, on average, about 200grams of the edible rhizome.
There will be areas of the garden where the conditions are superior, and these spots can deliver ginger clumps close to half a kilogram, but these are outliers.
How are ginger rhizomes grown?
Ginger is grown by planting a section of sprouting rhizome about 25mm deep into soil that you have prepared appropriately.
This is one of those topics that can be split into two sides of the same subject. On one side, we have commercially grown ginger; the other is homegrown ginger.
There is a world of difference between the two, both in average quantity and the contentious debate on their quality. We have no experience growing commercially, so we can’t say much about that practice.
We do, however, know a lot about growing organically. Our yard has a lot of ginger in several areas, and we are self-sufficient in this spice.
Homegrown, backyard grown, self-sufficient growing, all of these fit into one bucket, so we will call them home-grown for brevity.
This method is the most trustworthy because you control almost all facets of the growing process, from location to watering, fertilizing, if any, and harvesting.
The first thing to consider is where to get ginger to grow, and we answer this in “can ginger be grown from store bought roots?“. Once you have that down pat, the rest is easy.
Once the sprouting rhizomes are planted, the area should be covered in good mulch. This is then watered in well and left for the season. There should be little to do but the occasional watering to keep the soil moist under the mulch.
Over the next few months, the ginger plant will produce several fresh shoots as the rhizomes spread below the soil surface. Ginger grows in the top layers of soil and rarely gets deeper than 75mm (3 inches).
After six months or so, the flower spikes will start to show, and they signal the closing of the growing season when they die back. All parts of the ginger above the ground will also die back, and you can now harvest your crop.
You can harvest the leaves before they die and get a second crop of dehydrated leaves that can be powdered and used as a seasoning.
For a deep dive into the soil conditions that ginger prefers, “What is the best soil for growing ginger” is recommended. The quality of your harvested rhizomes is determined at this stage.
What conditions do gingers produce best in?
Gingers produce the best when they are grown in moist, carbon rich soil that is well mulched and protected from the midday heat.
To gain the most return from your ginger plants, we copy the conditions that the gingers naturally grow in.
This means that we mimic the rainforest systems that are host to many ginger varieties.
We are fortunate because we live in the wet tropics of Northeast Australia, where many gingers grow natively, so we know what they require just by observing them in the bush.
These observations have steered us to put the information in one place (this website) for readers who are not so fortunate to be close to the natural setting.
What climates grow the best ginger?
Tropical humid climates are the best for growing reliable amounts of ginger, but sub-tropical and some temperate zones can grow ginger as well.
Ginger is a thirsty plant suited to tropical rains measured in meters of rain or tens of feet.
This intense rainfall maintains a level of humidity and ground moisture that keeps the ground soft. This soft ground allows the ginger to grow large healthy rhizomes without to much difficulty.
Gingers don’t grow like a tree root but form rhizomes that are more like lumps connected in a fat string or hand. If the ground is hard the gingers end up climbing out of the ground and become tough and dry.
The best gingers grow in loose soil full of humus and compost. It can be simplistic to look at this from a temperature aspect, i.e., the tropics, but this would be wrong.
The humid conditions of the rainforests create a living blanket of biological activity at the soil surface, including fungi. These are critical beneficial partners in breaking down the dead plant matter into plant available nutrients that will grow the next generation.
The heat and humidity act as accelerants in this process. Colder climates have more bacterial activity than tropical zones and are often slower growing.
Is organically grown ginger more productive?
Organically grown ginger often results in smaller yields. However, the quality and environmental benefits of organic growing can outweigh the quantity differential.
Plus, the benefits of knowing how your food is produced can be very comforting in this fast-paced world.
Growing our own food is satisfying and based on sound reasoning from a health standpoint and a cost saving. In our yard, we don’t dedicate any particular spot for any specific plant but know that no chemicals are involved in the growing.
Growing ginger without fertilizers will likely come at a yield cost in some situations, but if we plant a bit more to compensate for the lower yield per plant, it is a win. Clean food is a must in our yard.
We knocked one garden bed of ginger out of the park with yield, and it was all organic. This post titled “growing lots of ginger, is this the best mulch?” goes into what happened.
It helps to understand the other side of the growing choices, so we have included some info below.
The financial pressure on any commercial food grower almost forces them to use chemical plant support methods to make money to pay debt and grow the next crop.
The quality of ginger roots is therefore suspect in food safety if you consider the chemicals that the farming industry uses.
The science behind growing chemically supported crops is well funded and very advanced, and it is remarkable how they can force feed a plant and obtain a harvest. We don’t subscribe to this growing method but understand why it exists.
Most of the population resides in cities and has limited ability to grow food for the table. For convenience, these people have outsourced food production to others and have little to no ability to dictate food quality.
Some people within these cities like to grow something, and for these people, we have an article dedicated to growing ginger in balcony herb gardens that can detail what is required to get started.
Growing ginger at home is rewarding because of the benefits you can get from this plant. If you work with a ratio of 10-20 to 1 return from a single piece of rhizome that has shot, you get an average result of 200 grams of ginger for an initial planting of a 10-15 gram piece.
This is an average expectation and one we meet every year without fail. To get the most return, we recommend looking at our mulch and ginger articles. They are interlinked in the posts and look at real life in our garden. You can find them via the search icon at the top of the page.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.