Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has many erect stems that grow to about 1.5 metres tall from a rhizome with numerous buds. Commercially grown ginger never flowers but wild ginger occasionally produces insignificant flowers.
Ginger requires a well-drained, slightly alkaline soil that is rich in rotted organic matter. It needs to be well fed, watered and mulched and requires shelter from strong winds.
Ginger plants can be easily started towards the end of winter from sections of fresh root that is bought at the green grocer. Choose a piece that is plump but not rubbery and one with plenty of buds. Cut it into sections about 8 cm long, ensuring that each piece has at least one bud. Put the pieces aside for a day or two for the cut ends to dry and then plant horizontally about 10 cm below the surface. Water and mulch thoroughly and liquid fertilise every month.
To speed up the process the rhizomes can be planted shallowly in a pot with a plastic bag over the top and placed on the windowsill. Once the young shoots have appeared the bag can be removed and the pot moved outside.
Ginger is a spreading plant harvested in autumn with pieces of the rhizomes replanted ready for the next year’s crop. Ginger can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks or frozen and grated as required.