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Ginger is a tropical perennial herb that is indigenous to Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. This spicy, fragrant herb is often used in Asian and Indian food as well as in baked goods and candy. Ginger root is fibrous, gnarly and knobby, the leaves are a glossy green, and they bloom vibrantly in blue, red, white, pink and yellow. This herbaceous plant thrives well in a humid, warm climate, but with proper care, you can grow your own ginger regardless of where you reside.

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Grow Outdoors

Ginger requires planting in moist, fertile soil in an area with good drainage. It’s important to plant the ginger in a shaded area with limited direct sunlight and shelter from wind. To stymie rot in the ginger root, allow cut pieces to dry for a day or two in a warm, dry environment. Then plant the ginger in a shallow trench that is no deeper than one inch. If you prefer, fill eight-inch pots with loam-based compost, ensuring the cups have a hole for water drainage.

outdoor fertile soil good drainage JudiParkinson / Getty Images
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Grow Indoors

Ginger is easy to grow indoors, and you can purchase roots at a nursery or garden center. Choose a root that is plump and firm. A tight skin with several “eye” bumps –like those on potatoes – is ideal. Soak the root overnight in warm water, then transfer to a well-draining pot filled with soil. Ginger roots grown horizontally, so plant the root with eyes facing up and cover with a few more inches of dirt. Ginger flourishes indoors in a glasshouse or plant container, but in the winter move the plant away from windows to help keep it warm

indoor pots soak overnight drainage YinYang / Getty Images
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Grow From Seeds

If you have a germination chamber or warm greenhouse, you can grow ginger from seeds. You can also germinate them outdoors between 70-to-80 degrees Fahrenheit using heat mats. Place the seeds in a shallow dish that is no deeper than two-to-three inches. Water the seeds right away, but don’t water again until the soil is dry to the touch.

ginger seeds germinate outdoors Jan_Kowalski / Getty Images
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Deal with Pests and Diseases

It’s not recommended that you obtain your ginger root from the supermarket because it comes directly from the field. These roots can be infected with nematodes. When you grow ginger at home, avoid potential threats by leaving plenty of space between plants to prevent contamination from aphids or spider mite infestations, which can happen in dry climates. If your plant does come under attack, wash it with the hose or in the sink and keep it moist.

aphids spider mites infestations diseases Stanislav Sablin / Getty Images
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Harvesting

You can begin harvesting baby ginger between four-to-six months. Baby ginger has tender flesh, a mild flavor, no stringy fibers, and there’s no skin to peel. The easiest way to harvest baby ginger is to dig carefully at the side of a clump. Mature ginger roots – known as rhizomes – are ready for harvest between 10 and 12 months, after the leaves die off. If you prefer not to harvest the entire plant, cut off what you need and allow the plant to keep growing.

harvest cut baby mature Volosina / Getty Images
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Storage Tips

Ginger keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. Blot any cut edges dry, then store the ginger in a covered container. Whole or pureed ginger roots freeze beautifully, and it defrosts quickly. If pureed, place in a plastic bag, then break off a chunk as needed and use it in cooking. You can also freeze pureed ginger in ice cube trays or cookie-size chunks then transfer to a container for easy access.

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Preparation for Use

Flexibility is the name of the game for ginger. You can use it in powder form for baking, julienne strips for stir-fry or slice it for tea. Frozen ginger is easy to grate, and peeling is not necessary. If you prefer to peel the skin, you can use the edge of a spoon or, for tougher skin, a paring knife. Use a microplane grater to powder the ginger, and always grate across the fibers.

versatile preparation slice grate julienne GCShutter / Getty Images
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Cooking

Ginger is a versatile spice that can make your daily menus sing with flavor. Season a mild-flavored fish with fresh or dried ginger to enhance it with a slightly spicy note. Steep fresh peeled ginger in boiling water for a soothing tea or add some to your favorite smoothie. Ginger’s zesty personality is ideal for stir-fry dishes, meat marinades, sauces, and homemade salad dressings.

sauces marinades fish stir-fry luchezar / Getty Images
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Health Benefits

Studies support evidence that ginger offers many health benefits. Ginger helps relieve nausea, a chief complaint during pregnancy, chemotherapy or following surgery. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce muscle pain that accompanies exercise, and it can also relieve the discomfort from osteoarthritis. Furthermore, ginger is also believed to play a part in reducing blood pressure, lowering sugar levels for diabetics and treating chronic indigestion.

osteoarthritis diabetes pain management NoirChocolate / Getty Images
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Fun Facts

The ginger plant stem grows to a height of 3.25 feet once a year. Ginger wine is popular in the United Kingdom and collecting the pretty green glass bottles is a trending hobby. In the 13th and 14th century if you wanted to buy a sheep, the cost was a pound of ginger. When ginger slices are placed in vinegar, they turn pink.

wine sheep pink slices Jeffoto / Getty Images

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