Due to its many health benefits, ginger has become a commonly used spice. Its edible part is the rhizome so people are wondering if ginger can be grown in vertical farms that are famous for growing leafy plants without big roots. Let’s investigate if it’s possible.
Ginger can be grown in a vertical farm. Most ginger grown in a vertical farm is grown with hydroponics. To grow ginger in a vertical farm, plant a piece of ginger rhizome in soil or compost until roots sprout. Then move it to a hydroponic system. Make sure the plants have plenty of light and heat.
Read further to find out what are the specific requirements for growing ginger in a controlled environment and what to watch out for when doing it.
How to Grow Ginger in a Vertical Farm?
Before planting ginger in a vertical system, you should first cut the rhizome into small bites and plant them in soil or ideally in compost. Wait until rhizomes sprout and once you can observe green stems coming from the ground, you can move ginger to your vertical hydroponic or aquaponic system.
To hold the rhizome in place you will need some growing media. The most common media used for root plants such as ginger is expanded clay.
To plant ginger in the growing media, make a hole in the clay and put a rhizome in it. Make sure the roots are directed downwards. Then fill in the hole with clay in a way that the top of the rhizome will be roughly at the level of a clay surface.
In the video below, you can see by example how it’s done in an aquaponics system with expanded clay.
Best Conditions for Growing Ginger in a Vertical Farm
Ginger is a plant that occurs naturally in South-East Asia and it likes a lot of sun exposure. If you are using supplemental lights, aim for 18 hours lighting period per day to replicate that.
Ginger likes hot and humid climates so ideally keep your air temperature above 35 C (~95 F). The water temperature should be in a range 24-26 C (75.2-78.8 F)
If you have a fairly high nitrate level in your system they aren’t going to do fairly well. Ginger doesn’t like salt so it’s not recommended to grow it in heavily salty systems. The sweet spot for pH level of you nutrients solution is 5.5 – 6.5
Time of Growth and Harvest of Ginger Grown in a Vertical Farm
Ginger has a fairly long growing season. It takes around 2 weeks for ginger to sprout before it can be moved to the hydroponic system. Once it’s planted in the system, it takes about 4 months to produce rhizomes and grow enough to be harvested, but it takes 8-10 months for the ginger plant to be fully grown.
To harvest ginger, move away expanded clay and slowly pull up the root. Then shake off the clay from the roots. The video below shows exactly how to harvest ginger plant from aquaponics system
Leaf Symptoms of Nutritional Deficiencies and Toxicities in Ginger
If you don’t provide the proper amount of nutrients your ginger will suffer. Different nutrients misuse can cause different symptoms in the plant. Below you can find descriptions of symptoms of the most common deficiencies and toxicities in ginger
|Nitrogen deficiency||Leaves are paler and may turn yellow if deficiency is severe.|
|Potassium deficiency||Plants are smaller and darker green in color. Also, leaf surfaces are crinkled.|
|Phosphorus deficiency||Plants are smaller and darker green in color.|
|Calcium deficiency||Small irregular yellow to white spots towards the tips of the upper leaves.|
|Sulfur deficiency||Upper leaves turn yellow or sometimes even white. Paler than leaves with nitrogen deficiency.|
|Manganese deficiency||Bright yellow to white color of the leaver. Symptoms start from the leaf tip and go towards the stem.|
|Iron deficiency||The tissue between the veins of the upper leaves becomes pale.|
|Boron deficiency||The spacing between the leaves is reduced towards the top of the plant and the upper leaves develop small rough circular spots caused by the breakdown of the tissue inside the leaf.|
|Zinc deficiency||Short spacing between the upper leaves. Broad yellow to white in color stripes between the main veins of the leaves.|
|Copper deficiency||Leaves not fully unrolled – young leaves entangled with older leaves.|
|Molybdenum deficiency||The tips and margins of the younger leaves look bleached. Also narrow discolored lines on the leaves.|
|Phosphorus toxicity||The tips and margins of the lower leaves turn yellow to white in color and eventually die.|
|Boron toxicity||The tissue turn light in color and with pure white patches on it. After death, the tissue may turn brown.|
|Manganese toxicity||Older leaves become yellow to white in color at the tips and along the margins.|
Most Common Pests and Diseases Attacking Ginger
Even in controlled environment systems, there is also a risk for occurance of diseases and pests. Most of them spread through soil and water contamination. Since vertical farming usually utilizes soil-less hydroponics and aquaponics systems, you should be particularly careful with the water going into your system. Below you can find list of the most common pests and diseases attacking ginger.
- Rhizome fly
- Rhizome scale
- Leaf roller
- Shoot borer
- White grub
- Bacterial wilt
- Leaf spots
- Soft roots