My spice garden: Growing ginger and turmeric in pots

This post is a continuation from yesterday’s, which documented my challenges finding imported fresh spice ingredients (like curry leaves, kaffir limes and fresh turmeric) on last week’s trip to the big city. Long before COVID19 hit us, I have been experimenting with growing various exotic plant foods (those that are usually imported, like rice, quinoa, cumin, citrus, lemon grass) in my gardens. This year I set myself a new challenge: trying to grow ginger in pots. And now, after last week’s city experience, starting to grow turmeric, too.

My attempt at growing ginger was inspired by a friend who is always interested in what I am producing in my garden. I loved her idea, so I decided to give it a try! Ginger is a tropical plant, so my plan here in Canada was to start it indoors in late winter, then move it outside once the weather warmed up.

I didn’t know whether the ginger I could buy at the supermarket would even sprout at all. I shopped around and bought three different types, to maximize my chances: regular Chinese, regular Peruvian, and organic Peruvian. After several weeks in seed trays on a heat mat, I dug them up for a look. The organic rhizome had rotted. But the Chinese and Peruvian ones had little buds sprouting!

Growing ginger is definitely an exercise in patience. It was over a month until the Chinese plant finally poked its head up above the surface.

(And still no sign of the Peruvian guy).

So I have been caring for the guys for four months now.

Ginger loves heat. Turns out that 2020 wasn’t exactly the best year for me to attempt this experiment, as our summer has been really cold so far (what exactly has 2020 been good for?). But it is what it is, and I am totally invested in it.

Sprouting and growing ginger plants

My two ginger plants are finally outside full-time now.

Interestingly, my two varieties look completely different: the Chinese one is short and stocky and the Peruvian one is tall and sleek. Their lower leaves are looking pretty blotchy (I think from the cold), but the new leaves growing in the sunshine and heat are looking great.

This photo is from two months ago. The header photo shows the guys as of last week.

I am very excited that the Chinese plant has started to throw out a few more stalks from the base. Hopefully the Peruvian plant will, too.

(In retrospect, I should have started with larger chunks of rhizome – they probably would have sprouted more greenery).

I can’t wait to see what they produce for me in the fall.

So now I am working on the turmeric. Like I said, it is very late in the year to be starting them – mid-summer here now – so my hope is simply that some (or all!) of them will sprout. Then my intention is to overwinter them indoors, like house plants. So at least I have a seedline going, and then will be able to do it on the right timeline next year.

I was able to find three different turmerics in Victoria. One that was slimy and moldy came from Save-On foods (no country of origin specified), and there were two different brands at Wal-Mart: one originating in Thailand and the other in Fiji.

Turmeric rhizomes being planted to grow

They’ve been in their sprouting trays, outside in the sun (on the rare occasion that the sun is actually out), and otherwise indoors on the heating pad, for just over a week now.

I don’t know how much longer I can resist digging them up for a peek!

To me, this is a really fun part of growing your own food at home: experimenting with different fruits and vegetables and spices, whether in your garden or in containers. (Pots definitely give a lot more leeway for trying plants that are not adapted to your climate – I was moving those gingers in and out of the house for months). And with all of the insecurity about whether our national and global food supply chains will continue to work, it makes me feel really confident – knowing not only that I can provide for our household from my little back yard patch, but that we’ll be eating spicy and flavourful foods too!

Happy gardening! If you want to learn how you can grow your own fruit, vegetables and spices in your own back yard garden or even just in a few containers on your patio, please contact me to sign up for updates!

Published by Jacqueline Windh

I'm a writer, photographer, and radio broadcaster who is concerned about our planet and how we live our lives - hoping my work helps people to find new ways of thinking about issues such as personal health, wilderness, the environment, food security, thinking about the future. These things are all connected, you know...

3 thoughts on “My spice garden: Growing ginger and turmeric in pots

  1. Nice post! I’m in South Africa and trying a turmeric plant for the first time. A friend gave me a small potted one which I have just planted into one of my raised beds in a hopefully suitable spot. If things work out I may try ginger as well. I use a lot of whole spices at home in recipes. Also have a potted bay tree and curry leaf bush which never fail to produce well 🙂

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