What is the difference between wild and cultivated ginger? Can I grow it in a northern climate?
Answer: Both wild and cultivated gingers are tropical plants and are therefore very sensitive to freezing temperatures that are common in northern climates. Wild ginger also has less flavor than the cultivated varieties. There has been some success in growing “baby ginger” as an annual greenhouse crop in northern climates as far north as Maine. Baby ginger is the swelled rhizome of root ginger. Baby ginger matures into golden-skinned root ginger if cured. Shaped like root ginger, its thin skins are bright white with pink blush points on the tops of the roots.There is a grower profile in the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener Association newsletter that can be accessed at www.mofga.org/Publications/MaineOrganicFarmerGardener/Winter20112012/
Ginger/tabid/2055/Default.aspx. This profile has a lot of information on how to produce ginger in the greenhouse and includes information on where to get rhizome cuttings. Northeastern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) also funded a farmer research project on growing ginger in hoop houses and greenhouses in northern climates. Old Friends Farm found that the ginger grew surprisingly well in the hoop houses and was more cost-effective than the greenhouse-grown ginger. For more information on this project, you can read the final report, complete with planting information, at http://mysare.sare.org/MySare/assocfiles/913633final.pdf.For information on growing other roots species, such ginseng or goldenseal, check out the ATTRA publication Ginseng, Goldenseal, and Other Native Roots at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=40.