is an essential ingredient in Asian cooking
, and although most of us pick it up at the store, you actually can grow it at home. In fact, you can start your own ginger plant with the ginger root you get at the grocery store!
In North America the main part of the ginger plant that we use is the root or rhizome, but when ginger is homegrown it also produces ginger grass, which has a unique lemony-ginger flavor. Ginger is a tropical plant, so it can only be grown outdoors in zone 10
in the U.S. The grass will not grow in temperatures under 75 F, and the root will become dormant below 55 F. In cooler regions, grow your ginger indoors.
To start growing ginger indoors, choose a fat ginger root from the store. When you get it home, cut the root into several smaller pieces. Make sure each piece has a node on it. Soak the ginger pieces in lukewarm (100 F) water for 8 hours, and in the meantime prepare 12-inch deep containers with a blend of half compost and half potting soil. After the ginger pieces have soaked, plant several of them in each pot (node side up) under 1/4 inch of soil. Water regularly, but don't let the soil become soggy.
Ginger grass will grow first, and you can use clippings in recipes or teas. It can take up to 10 months for the ginger root
to grow enough to be harvested. You do not need to remove the root from the container to use it; just dig until it's exposed and cut what you need for your dish, then bury the rest so it can continue to grow.