Planting Ginger Root
The easiest way to get started growing ginger root is to get a few fresh rhizomes of someone who does grow ginger, at the time when the plant re-shoots anyway (early spring). Otherwise just buy some at the shops at that time.
Ginger root with growth buds.
Make sure you select fresh, plump rhizomes.
Look for pieces with well developed “eyes” or growth buds. (The buds look like little horns at the end of a piece or “finger”)
Some people recommend to soak the rhizomes in water over night. That’s not a bad idea, since shop bought ginger might have been treated with a growth retardant.
I also read the advice to sit rhizomes in water until they sprout roots. That’s nonsense. Your ginger plant will be much happier if the roots are in the ground and can breathe right from the start, rather than having to deal with the transplanting shock and the change in conditions. If the ground is moist and warm they will root very easily.
Whether you grow your ginger root in a pot or in the ground, you do need really good soil to start with. It needs to be rich enough to feed your ginger (you can always add some fertiliser, see below), it needs to hold enough moisture so it doesn’t dry out, but it needs to be free draining so the ginger roots don’t become water logged.
Good compost is of course ideal. I use a mix of one part of my best compost with one part of my sandy garden soil. The compost supplies the nutrition and holds water, and the sand/loam makes sure the mix drains freely.
If your garden has reasonable soil just dig in some compost and that should be good enough. If your soil is too heavy you can make a raised bed or a small hill or ridge to improve drainage.
The best planting time is late winter/early spring (late dry season/early wet season, in the true tropics). Make sure you select a spot where the plants get plenty of light but no direct sun, and where they are protected from wind.
You can cut or break up the ginger rhizomes in little pieces with a couple of growing buds each. Or just plant the whole thing. Plant your ginger root five to ten centimetres deep, with the growing buds facing up.
Ginger needs a lot of moisture while actively growing. The soil should never dry out. Don’t overwater, though, because the water that drains away will take nutrients with it.
Ginger loves humidity. If you have problems with dry air then regular spraying and misting might help. Dry air can cause problems with spider mites. But that’s rather a problem for people who try to grow ginger out of its range and indoors. A sheltered, moist spot in a warm climate will provide enough humidity.
Mulched, young ginger plant
If you are growing ginger in the ground mulch it thickly.
It helps to keep the ground moist, it helps feed the ginger as the mulch breaks down, and it also keeps down weeds.
(Ginger is a slow growing plant and easily overgrown by others.)
Towards the end of summer, as the weather starts cooling down, your ginger will start to die back. Reduce the water, even let the ground dry out. This encourages the ginger to form rhizomes. Once all the leaves have died down your ginger is ready for harvest.