GInger in Zone 8a During Winter Months?

KendraSchmidtAugust 10, 2012

I use ginger a ton in my cooking, and live in a zone 8a environment. I would like to grow ginger outside for my own food use, but am worried about what happens during the winter time.

Is there a ginger that I can grow outside in Zone 8a, without having to remove it during the wintertime? I don't want to be forced to overwinter it indoors. It has to be a ginger that I can use in my cooking.

I don't know if I can simply get the ginger from the store and place that in the ground? Or is there a special ginger for zone 8a?

I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks everyone.

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trianglejohn

You can grow Zingiber mioga outdoors year-round in zone 8 as long as you're in a moist woodsy area and not in the desert. It is the ginger most often used in Japanese cooking and the one you see with sushi (pickled ginger). It tastes a lot like regular ginger Zingiber officinale but not exactly the same. It will go dormant during the winter and I usually harvest roots in the fall and just store them in a drawer in the kitchen but you could probably dig them while dormant also.

Galagal or Thai ginger should overwinter most winters for you - a super cold winter will probably kill it but most winters it should survive. It has a different flavor and is most often paired with lemon grass but also makes a great candied ginger.

I'm in zone 7 and I have had Cardamom overwinter but here in the US it will never bloom and fruit which is where you get the most common spice from the plant. The leaves add a spicy tropical aroma to rice or noodles by just laying the leaf in the pot after cooking (you don't eat the leaf, use like a bay leaf).

Common ginger root just rots while dormant in cold soil.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 4:21PM
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KendraSchmidt

Thanks Trianglejohn. I'm hoping for something that tastees like common ginger that I can leave outside durign the winter. Does this mean that if I leave it outside, it will go dormant during the winters (the varieties that you mentioned above) and I won't be able to harvest it during the winter? (I'm assuming it won't be a good idea to break pieces off during the winter)

Also, do any of the varieties you mentioned taste like common ginger?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 5:25PM
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trianglejohn

The flavors are different. I think common ginger has the spiciest/hottest flavor. The myoga or myogi ginger is the closest in taste and the most reliably hardy in your temperature zone (it's a forest plant so you might have to try it in a few spots to see where it grows the best).

I'm in zone 7 so most of my ginger gets harvested in Oct before first frost. Most winters, the roots of the galanga and turmeric and cardamom go dormant and stay fresh as long as they're left alone in the soil - sometimes they rot. I usually get enough roots to eat in the fall harvest that I don't need to bother the plants during the winter.

You could always grow a ton of common ginger and then freeze the roots. They're easier to peel and grate when they're frozen anyway. Keep a few small ones as a houseplant to break up and replant the following spring (late spring/early summer). I usually get four times the amount of root I plant.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 11:10AM
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KendraSchmidt

This is excellent advice and now I understand why ginger that I thought was died off actually sprouted this summer.

One last question, Trianglejohn, can you recommend to me soil for ginger? Is it recommended to put composted cow manure in the soil? Does it need acidic soil?

Can you give me some advice on what my soil composition should be? I just put potting soil and peat moss, but I don't know what exactly is the best soil for ginger.

Thanks so much for your great advice.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:04PM
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trianglejohn

In my garden gingers like the same type of soil all my tropicals enjoy - dark black top soil mixed with lots of compost and fine bark mulch. They like to get watered every day but hate to sit in wet soil (thats why I put in bark mulch). I don't test it for pH so I don't know if it is acid or not. I have to make new soil for them every year and they do better if I feed them every month during the summer (compost or fertilizer). I have seen ginger farms in the tropics where they grow it in solid clay or gravelly lava chips so I think this group of plants will adapt to whatever you want to grow it in.

What I do is buy the cheapest bag of top soil, black cow compost, and pine bark fines (sold often as Soil Conditioner around here). I mix all of them together and add a shovel full or two of my sandy garden soil. The end product is fluffy and kinda coarse with big chucks of fiber and bark.

I grow them in the shade. The ones that are on the edge and get more light need more water.

Gingers are strange in that they can do this dormant thing where they just go to sleep and you cannot wake them up. I've had roots sit in the pot for years and then one day they sprouted. Sometimes they rot for no reason and other times they just sit there in the dirt and never sprout. Heat seems to be an important trigger but sometimes even it doesn't work. It can be hard to get them to sprout on a schedule. I start right after Christmas and hope I have baby plants up and growing by March 1st and I plant them outside in mid May or whenever it starts to get pretty hot (they don't die if they get cool but they don't grow either).

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:56PM
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