Answer: True ginger is Zingiber officinale. It's a perennial with thick rhizomes (which is the part that's used in cooking). The plants grow 2'-4' tall with narrow, glossy, bright green leaves up to 1' long. Ginger needs heat and humidity to thrive in the garden. You can purchase fresh ginger roots at the grocery store in early spring and cut them into 1"-2" long sections, each with well-developed growth buds. Let the cut ends dry, then plant just underground in rich, moist soil. Water cautiously until stems develop, then water deeply to encourage root growth. Plants are dormant in the winter and rhizomes may rot in cold, wet soils. You can plant new roots each spring, or lift and store the roots, replanting some in the spring and using the rest for cooking.
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