Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Bringing in the Ginger Harvest

Harvesting ginger

Harvesting ginger

If you like, you can harvest some of your ginger before the whole crop is ready. If you dig gently at the base of the outmost stem, you can see how much rhizome development you have. It will be pink. You can take a [clean!] gardening knife or scissors and cut a piece off. It will be sweeter and less pungent than the ginger you’re used to getting from the store. Farm stands that sell this type of ginger call it—surprise!—young ginger. Rinse it thoroughly and keep it refrigerated. You can slice it thinly to use with sushi or as a garnish for salads or other dishes. You can also pickle it to preserve it.

When the ginger plant’s leaves look like they’re starting to die back (about four months or so after they first appeared), you’re close to harvest time. Stop watering the plants; they’ll get the message that it’s time to finish up with those rhizomes.

Using a garden fork, work the soil gently until you can lift the whole plant out of the ground. Depending on how many eyes your rhizome had, this could be quite a hefty plant! You can leave a few of the new rhizomes in the pot for the winter and they’ll sprout again in the spring.

When you have all the rhizomes pulled up, look for the “seed” rhizome; it will look older and more tired than the rest. That’s the rhizome you started with. You don’t want to leave that one in the planter; but you can slice it and dry it to use as powdered ginger in cooking, or run it through the food processor and use it in recipes calling for fresh ginger.

Trim the stems to a length of about 4 inches. Once you’ve trimmed the ginger down to the rhizomes, you can dry the leaves and use them for tea. Once you’ve removed the stems, be sure to pull off any little pink leaf bases you see; they can be quite tough.

Wash the fresh ginger under running water, gently removing any remaining soil. You can use a soft toothbrush to make sure you get all of it.

Let your ginger dry at room temperature. You can store your ginger root in a cool, dark, dry place and use it as needed for the winter and spring.

How do you harvest your ginger? Do you harvest small pieces of rhizome throughout the season, or do you wait until the leaves start to die off? Let us know what your ginger harvest is like.

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