Pre-Sprouting Ginger and turmeric
What to do for ginger
When first getting your ginger seed, there are a few things that you should do to have all of the seeds growing at the same pace (in other words, striving for uniform germination).
First, place the ginger seed pieces in flats or pots with about 2-3 inches of soilless media (like cocopeat), very lightly cover the seeds, and water enough to keep the medium moist but not wet. At this point, there is no demand by the ginger for water as far as supporting growth. However, the ginger seed needs to know that there is enough consistent moisture available to sprout and maintain its growth.
Next, put the ginger in a warm area (70-80F). During this stage, the ginger doesn’t need any light but warmth is crucial, so placing the seeds inside the house usually works best. This is the stage where the rhizomes start growing.
For the next few weeks, make sure not to overwater the ginger. This is an easy mistake to make, especially since the seed pieces will be taking up very little moisture. To avoid overwatering, make sure to water only when the media begins to dry on the surface. After about 4-6 weeks, you will see the shoots starting to emerge, soon followed by roots. Once this happens, the seed pieces are ready to be moved to their final destination. If the soil and outside temperature are not ready for the seed then you can hold your pre-sprouted seed a while longer. As long as it gets enough moisture it will be fine and continue to grow. If you are going to hold the pre-sprouted seed for a while you might consider giving it a bit of well rounded fertilizer.
So how does this gain a month on the growing season? If you had waited to plant your seed when the outside or tunnel temperatures were optimum, the seed would still need 4 to 6 weeks to sprout. On the other hand, planting seed that’s already sprouted when temperatures are optimum will gain you a month to six weeks of growing season.
When to pre-sprout
If you’re not sure whether you need the extra month that you will get with pre-sprouting, you need to look at the weather patterns in your area and see how long of a growing season you have. Ginger will need to be harvested by first frost, and it takes 4-6 months until you get ginger you can harvest, although at 4 months the harvest will be considerably smaller than at 6. If you wait until 5 or 6 months since the pre-sprouting, the rhizomes will have grown significantly, and this is when you will get your biggest harvest weight for baby ginger.
Do I even need to worry about pre-sprouting?
If you live in a place where the soil is warmer than 55-60F (day and night) at the time you get your seed, you can skip the pre-sprouting process and plant the seed straight in the ground upon receiving. But as mentioned before, be sure to keep you seed moist but not overly wet.
Speeding up Turmeric sprouting
Turmeric can have a tendency to be very shy or slow to initiate growth. It may be a survival mechanism it has developed to cope with its natural environment.
We usually recommend to allow the seed to lose some moisture before placing it in media. I would say 5-10% by weight. This will prompt seed to get moving once planted.