Growing Organic Ginger- Growing Ginger in New England!
Ginger is a tropical plant, which means it prefers temperatures above 70 oF and not much higher than 80 oC.
I’ve only found one commercial organic ginger seed company, Hawaii Organic Ginger (ie Biker Dude Puna Organics). They offer three types of ginger: Bubba Baba ginger, Yellow Hawiian ginger, and Khing Yai ginger. The Bubba Baba ginger is the one that is the most forgiving in all climates.
I’ve ordered the yellow ginger two separate years and both years I’ve had a very poor crop. This is most likely due to the weather, it being too cold for this variety. The Bubba Baba ginger, however, did fantastic last year. I got about 15 lbs of gorgeous ginger from 5 lb of seed. Mmm mmm….the smell of freshly harvested ginger!
I purchase my organic ginger from the Biker Dude in November. He literally sells out overnight most years, so if you want ginger you order it at 12 am on November 1st via email. He sells to those who have purchased from him first before he’ll take new orders. It took me a couple of years to realize to order the ginger in order to get on his list!
Ginger arrives either “Whole Hand” or cut ginger. I’ve cut the Whole Hand ginger myself. I think I did it right, but it’s not that easy. You need to cut the ginger almost the same way you’d cut up a potato for seed. The thing is you have to make sure the ginger is cured exactly the way they tell you or you’ll end up with a rotted piece of ginger. If I remember, I usually pay the extra fifty cents per pound to have them cut it. The weather there is perfect for drying, while my house is not ideal … especially in February when the order arrives in the mail!
As soon as you get your order, remove it from the shipping box. People forget that the ginger is alive and needs to breathe. If you don’t let it breathe, you may end up with a fungus (ie mold). Ginger does not grow well with fungus. Try your best to not contaminate the ginger!!! If it’s Whole Hand ginger, follow the instructions on the website and start cutting away. For the cut ginger, just make sure it’s dry (not dried out!) and ready to plant.
Biker Dude’s instructions include a recommendation for the best growing medium, coconut coir. I strongly suggest you follow the growing advice. The ginger seed is expensive and regular dirt or other grow mixes can be prone to mildew or mold. Coconut coir is relatively sterile and stays moist the best. Start your seeds (ie pre-sprout) immediately as they take many months to sprout. Plant your sprouted seeds in late May/ early June, after the last frost. If the ground is still below 50 oF, wait until it gets warmer to plant your seed.
This year I think I planted my seed too early and it was just too cold. Then the entire summer was just too cold as well. My tomatoes did rather poorly this year as well. My ginger crop is minimal, but hey… it’s enough for me to make a few good meals. Next year I’ll order Bubba Baba ginger for sure!