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6 tips on how to grow and harvest your own ginger

Ginger, which is gaining popularity for its health benefits, can be found in kitchens around the world for both medicinal and culinary purposes. It is known for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as its use as a powerful digestive aid.
Ginger is another one of those plants that people don't think to add to their gardening space but is really quite simple to grow. Go ahead and give it a try. These six tips will make it even easier.
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1. Plant after frost-free date
Ginger originates from subtropical or tropical climates and doesn't grow well in the cold. If you're going to plant it in the ground, get it in as early as you can after the frost-free date for your area. The USDA offers a plant hardiness zone map.
2. Find a spot with part shade
Pick a location that gets dappled shade during the day or is shaded at times where the sun's intensity is at its strongest. If you are unsure about the differences in shade/part shade/sun, check out Gardening with Confidence for a quick description.
3. Provide loose, well-composted soil
To encourage good rhizome growth, it's best to have soil that is loose and extremely well-composted. Add two to three inches of finished compost to the surface and work it in well before planting if necessary. Avoid soils that have a high clay content and don't allow good water movement.
4. Start with two to three growing points
Ginger is grown by planting a piece of living ginger root. It's not necessary to buy it from a garden center or nursery; grab a chunk of rhizome from a friend if they have a plant or buy organic ginger from the store. Avoid nonorganic types as they might have been sprayed with chemicals to inhibit sprouting. Look for a firm, plump root that has a light skin and two to three eyes. This is where the new growth will occur.
5. Plant in a shallow trench
Dig a shallow trench to plant the ginger root. The rhizomes should be no more than one inch below the soil surface. The plant will grow horizontally so it needs plenty of space away from other plants. Place the ginger root so the growing points are sticking up toward the soil surface and tamp down the soil gently over the trench. Shoots should emerge within a couple of weeks and can grow to 4 to 5 feet tall.
6. Care during growing season
For best growth, add compost periodically around the base of the plant during the growing season or a light application of an all-purpose fertilizer. Water well when the soil is dry but avoid keeping the root zone wet all the time to prevent diseases and insect pests. You can harvest small pieces of the rhizome a couple of months after planting. Replace the soil to foster continued growth, or you can harvest the entire plant when the leaves begin to turn yellow. East Branch Ginger has some helpful tips for storing ginger after harvesting.
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