If you are looking to add some homegrown zing to your garden recipes this year, try growing your own turmeric. It’s related to ginger, and its roots have a warm, peppery flavor. Turmeric is the primary flavoring ingredient in curry powder, and it gives color and flavor to your ballpark variety of mustard. This makes turmeric a worldwide favorite that’s easy to grow right at home in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 8 through 10. It can also be grown in areas with cooler, shorter summers — the plants will just have to be moved indoors before the last frost.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is native to certain tropical areas of Asia. It is a pretty plant that grows to about 3 feet high. It has large green leaves and its flowers spike above the plant in bright pink. The turmeric plant adds texture and interest to garden beds. They grow well as container plants, too. The plant is most often grown for its bright orange, flavorful roots. The medicinal properties of turmeric have been revered throughout history too, and turmeric is used today by folks across the globe as an anti- inflammatory, to battle skin conditions, and to boost gastrointestinal health. Turmeric is a unique plant to grow, and it makes for an interesting conversation piece for those who make room for it in their gardens.
Grow Your Own Turmeric
To grow turmeric, you need roots, called rhizomes. The rhizomes should be planted in spring. So, now it is the right time. From one rhizome, you can grow a few plants. Every rhizome has fingers. If you shape them you can plant them for individual plants, or you can just use the rhizome for one plant.
If you notice any sprouts or buds, face them upwards. Plant the pieces, but leave 12 inches place between them. You should plant it 2 inches deep. Just press them gently and flatten the soil on the top.
The best location for the turmeric is the one with sunshine in the morning but with shade in the afternoons. The soil must be rich and moist. But, don’t overwater it.
Turmeric prefers tropical zones which are warm and humid and in areas like that it can grow for 8 to 10 months. Once the plant begins to shrivel and turn yellow, you need to harvest its roots by digging out the whole plant. Put the rhizomes aside and keep them for next year.
You can also choose to leave the roots inside the ground for next year. The roots are going to sprout new flowers in the spring.
If you are in the cold climatic zone, then transplant the turmeric into containers and move them inside through the winter. Keep the soil moist, and spray the turmeric. When the plant becomes mature, it will turn yellow and is going to dry. Then, dig the whole plant, remove the roots and keep some of them for the next year.
The roots can be stored in the fridge for about six months. Turmeric also can be frozen.
Problems and Pests
Outdoor turmeric is a low-maintenance plant that is resilient to many problems and pests. However, it is prone to root rot if it receives too much water. In general, it is a tropical plant that cannot withstand much more than a touch of frost, so if you choose to try and plant it anywhere other than in the warmest of climates, make sure to protect it from cold snaps. Also, under ideal growing conditions, turmeric can be a rampant grower, but most do not consider this to be a problem.
Indoor and outdoor turmeric may attract aphids and mites. Both of these pests can be rinsed off the plant with a spray of water. This may be a challenge with your indoor plant.