Recognize the Signals to Know When to Harvest Ginger at Home

Harvesting ginger is not a complex process. The challenge lies in knowing when to harvest ginger and recognizing the signs that your ginger is ready for extraction. We’ve compiled this helpful beginner’s guide to help you harvest ginger at the optimal times for warm and cold climates.

When to Harvest Ginger

Okay, so you’ve been following along with our guides for growing ginger at home.

You have successfully water propagated your store-bought ginger roots and transitioned the ginger to soil.

It’s only natural to wonder…what’s next?

“How do I know when to harvest my ginger?”

“Can I leave the ginger in the ground to grow an unlimited supply?”

“How do I harvest ginger?”

Do not fret! As always, we’ve got your back at the Garden Bench Top. We’ve created the ultimate guide to when to harvest ginger so you can get the most out of your efforts.

So, let’s get into the fun and get our hands dirty!

When to Harvest Ginger – Signs Your Ginger is Ready

Let’s address your primary concern – how do you know when to harvest ginger?

There are some telltale signs that you can look for to know when your ginger is ready to be harvested.

Here is what we look for…

credit: giphy

1. Yellowing Leaves and Die Back

Do not panic if you see all your ginger stem and leaves begin to turn yellow, wither and die back.

It doesn’t mean they are rotting in the ground.

Instead, if you notice all your ginger is experiencing a collective change in its leaf appearance, it simply means they are maturing.

Assuming you planted your ginger in the soil in early Spring, this is an excellent time to harvest your ginger. As it indicates, the growing season is coming to a close, and the rhizome has grown to its full potential for that year.

Yellowing leaves indicates the growing season is over and your ginger is ready to be harvested.

The exception to this rule is if you notice only one of your ginger plants turning yellow and dying. In this case, we would immediately dig up the ginger root and inspect it for any signs of root rot.

Changes in your ginger plant can also be triggered by seasonal changes, particularly in the year’s colder months. But we’ll explore that in the next section.

2. Seasonal Changes

Changes in season will cause your ginger to die back. The changes are in response to colder temperatures and reduced available sunlight.

Seasonal changes affect when to harvest ginger

During this period, your organic ginger ceases to grow and begins its dormancy period. The rhizome also hardens its skin to protect the plant from harsh winter conditions.

Interestingly, it is the change in appearance and rhizome skin thickness that ginger fanatics make the distinction between ‘old’ versus ‘young’ ginger.

Therefore, it is essential to point out that if you prefer a subtler ginger flavor with less heat, you should aim to harvest your ginger while it is considered ‘young.’

If you like a hot, more robust ginger flavor, let your ginger transition into the old classification and mature with a thicker rhizome skin.

3. Ginger Blossoms

Another sign your ginger is ready to harvest is after your ginger plant has blossomed.

Check out this happy ginger plant blossoming with ginger lilies from a Reddit user

Ginger plant flowering
credit: Reddit

Now, it is essential to note not all ginger plants will produce flowers.

Conditions have to be optimal for ginger to flower. Given ginger originates from tropical areas, you will see more ginger flowers in warm environments with high humidity.

However, the more relevant fact about ginger flowers is that they only tend to grow on ginger roots that have been developing for more than a few years.

Once you see a ginger plant flowering, you can be confident that the rhizome has matured and is ready to be harvested and full of gingerols (the compound that gives ginger its taste and aroma).

How to Harvest Ginger

As we mentioned at the beginning, harvesting ginger is not tricky. As a matter of fact, it can be summed up in four words.

Dig up and Wash

Digging Up Your Ginger Root

Once you know that your ginger is ready to be harvested, digging up your rhizome and cleaning it thoroughly is a simple process.

If you intend to allow your ginger to continue to grow and it is planted in the ground, you may need to employ some careful excavation techniques.

For example, try starting to clear away dirt approximately a foot away from your clump of ginger rhizomes. Continue to edge closer to your ginger plant until you reach the perimeter of the rhizome.

Simply remove enough ginger root for your consumption.

Garden Bench Top Tip

Before you backfill the soil, we recommend allowing the ginger rhizome to air dry and heal for a few days. This will help prevent disease or bacteria from infecting your entire plant through the open cut. But more importantly, it will allow your ginger to thrive and produce an endless supply of delicious ginger.

Preparation of Your Ginger Root to Eat

Preparing ginger root to eat

To consume your freshly cut ginger root, wash it thoroughly under cold water by rubbing away any soil.

You can also store your washed ginger root in the fridge for up to 2 weeks to use in your home cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions – When to Harvest Ginger

Can you leave the ginger root in the ground?

Yes – this is precisely how old ginger (or mature ginger) is produced. Ginger is considered old once it has experienced a dormancy period during the colder winter months of the year. During this period, the rhizome skin thickens and changes its appearance. Leaving ginger in the ground to mature also develops the ginger root, creating a more zesty taste with more spice or heat.

Can I leave my ginger in the ground over winter?

As we said in the previous question, ginger enters a dormancy period during winter, so it is possible to leave it in the ground over winter. That said, if your area experiences frigid temperatures and the ground freezes, we recommend growing ginger in containers so you can move the ginger indoors during winter. Ginger is a tropical plant from warm climates where the ground never freezes. Therefore it will not survive in cooler temperatures where soil experiences such harsh conditions.

Do you dry ginger after harvesting?

After you have harvested your ginger, the best practice is to thoroughly rinse it under cold water and dry them in a position out of direct sunlight.

Once dry, we recommend storing them appropriately to get the most shelf-life from your home-grown fresh ginger.

How do you store ginger after harvesting?

After you have air-dried your ginger, the best place to store your fresh ginger root is in the refrigerator. Keep the ginger intact and with the skin on. You can keep ginger in the fridge for up to two weeks.

If you do not intend to use ginger anytime soon, you can also freeze ginger. Place it into a freezer bag and your freezer.

Does ginger regrow every year?

Yes – after its dormancy period during winter, ginger will regrow and develop ginger shoots from the rhizome when the temperature warms up in Spring, and there is more available sunlight.