How to Grow Ginger and Turmeric in Marginal Zones
(Zones outside of 9-11)
A whole piece of ginger is called a “hand” and has several “fingers”.
When you receive your Ginger/Turmeric it will need to be cut into planting pieces. You can cut off all the fingers making sure each cut piece has a least 1 “bump”, which is where it sprouts from. In the end each piece can be as small as 1-1.5” with minimum 1 bump.
The pieces need to callous over the cut areas for 24-48 hours. This is to ensure rot or pathogens do not set in.
So if you don’t live in a zone 9-11 you will need to Pre-Sprout. Pre-Sprouting is done because Ginger/Turmeric has a longer growing season than your season, so it needs to be Pre-Sprouted either indoors or in a greenhouse or even a cold frame could work. (A cold frame is basically a small greenhouse that does not have a heat source like a furnace)
Place each piece in a container or flat and cover with no more than 1” of planting medium. What kind of planting medium? I recommend using Peat or Cocoanut Coir. Both are sterile so they don’t contain microscopics (bacterial or fungal) that cause disease and rotting, they also hold moisture really well.
Ideal temperature is between 70-75 degrees
You should see sprouts in 4-6 weeks and are ready to transplant when they are 1-2” tall
Transplanting and Growing:
Plants can be planted direct in the ground or if your climate is not ready yet transplanted into a container to grow inside until your past your frost point and outside nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees.
If planting direct into the ground make sure your soil is loose, loamy, and rich in organic matter. I like amend my soil with a mix Peat and Compost.
If planting in containers just be sure to use a good potting soil, l like HP Pro-Mix or SunGro.
Plant the rhizomes 2-4” deep and 6-8” apart. The adult Ginger plants grow to be about 2-3’ tall with Turmeric growing to 3-4’ tall.
The complete growth cycle from Sprouting to Harvest is about 8 months with this period being above freezing. If you don’t have this length containers may be the best option. *Rhizomes can be harvested before full maturity if desired.
Fertilizer should be started when the plant reaches 9-12” in height. A ratio of 4-3-2 is ideal and should be applied every 2 weeks. Organic fertilizers do not burn the plant so don’t worry about overfertilizing especially if you are container growing, Ginger/Turmeric are heavy feeders. The key to big full Ginger/Turmeric is in the fertilizing.
In about 8 months your plants will gradually start to die back. Once they are completely yellow and dried out it is time. The easiest way is to just dig out the whole plant. If your weather changes to Fall quickly you can always harvest early, they just may be a little smaller.