Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Keep or Harvest?

Last year in March I planted ginger.  We had a cool spring, and the plant was slow to start, but once the heat of the summer hit it started growing like crazy.  In mid-summer I  repotted the plant into a 10-inch pot.  It kept growing; when the weather cooled off and I brought  the houseplants inside for the winter a dozen two-foot tall stems filled the pot.

It was a challenge to find a space for the plant, but it ended up on a ledge next to the tub in the master bathroom, in front of  two windows.  My houseplants usually don't thrive inside, but I figured if I could nurse the ginger through the winter it could go out to the deck again in the spring.  Several weeks later I noticed that the leaves were starting to shrivel, and some of the stems were drooping.  I know ginger is a tropical plant and in the tropics it dies back as the weather cools down, but surely the inside of my house wasn't that cold? As stem after stem started deteriorating I started to think it was.

It was time to go back to the Internet for more information. about overwintering my plant.  I found Sara at The Herb Gardener, who had just what I was looking for.  According to her, once the tops of the plant yellowed, I should put the pot somewhere where the temperature stays above freezing, moisten the soil once a month to keep the roots viable, then put it out again in the spring and watch for new  shoots.  However, she also offered another option I hadn't thought of.  I could harvest the ginger and use the root for cooking, then start from scratch next spring with a new store-bought root.

Now I have a decision to make.  Try and keep the root alive until next spring and put the plant back out on the deck, or dig it up and use it? It took quite some time for the plant to grow big, so I'd be getting a jump start by beginning with a larger root.  However, I DO love the taste of ginger in my food.

Decisions, decisions.  What would you do?


  1. I've never grown ginger but I would leave it be and see if you could get it to flower. Besides, it's easy enough bought in the store for cooking.

  2. I am with Teri, I would want to see if I could get it through the winter. But, at what point do you harvest? Do you kill the entire plant when harvesting? Now you have me all curious.

  3. I'd leave it in the pot and wait to see what happened next, mind you I don't care for ginger so it wouldn't bother me to leave it at all. I am also curious now, I guess that ginger is a root or you use the root don't you? Hence the term ginger root. This is interesting, please keep us posted.

  4. Since I have such SMART readers to advise me, I've decided to try and overwinter the ginger. After making myself a reminder to water the pot, I set it on top of the freezer downstairs, next to the bin full of canna bulbs I dug up in the fall.

    We'll see what happens!

  5. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens as well.

  6. I hate raw ginger so I am not the one to advise you except to say keep it as a plant. My daughter and grand daughter would say dig it up and use. My daughter cooks with raw ginger all the time and my granddaughter likes to knaw on ginger.