This week I’m pretending that I’m living in Hawaii. Even though it’s February, and here in Minnesota it’s cold and gloomy outside, inside the greenhouse it’s like being on a farm on the Hawaiian Islands.
It’s time to start the ginger crop for the 2017 growing season. This year I am planting 100 lbs of ginger which should yield anywhere from 300 to 500 lbs by the end of the season.
Yes, ginger can be grown here in Minnesota. It just takes time, patience, and of course, a bit of knowledge on how to grow it. But the biggest need is having the right kind of growing environment for it to thrive.
Here at Sapsucker Farms, I purchase new, certified organic ginger root every year. I don’t replant any ginger from my previous year’s harvest for three main reasons 1.) I don’t know how to store it properly from November to February in order to assure that it is viable for the next season 2.) Every single piece that I grow is used in our Yellow Belly ginger hard cider. 3.) just like potatoes, by replanting your own stock you can perpetuate disease.
So here is how I grow ginger. In February, I start the ginger roots in my greenhouse. It takes about six weeks for them to sprout. By this time, the weather outside is warming up, and in particular, the soil inside the hoop house is warming up, so the sprouts are transplanted in hoop house sometime the end of April and early May.
The sprouts look a lot like bamboo. Tender green shoots with skinny leaves. Once it’s planted in the hoop house, then it needs to be nurtured throughout the summer…weeding…watering…feeding… By being sure it has all of its basic needs met, then it’ll happily grow until fall.
By November, the hoop house is a forest of ginger. Even though it’s cold outside, the warm soil and all of the greenery inside have a large enough mass to keep the environment warm and humid, well into the cold season.
Then the fun begins. Time to harvest. And nothing is more rewarding than to dig up a nice big ginger root like this one. Grown right here in the great state of Minnesota.