The turmeric plant is native to southern Asia, where the roots have been used for over 4000 years in medicines, food, and dyes. Turmeric is proven to have many health benefits, and the spice lends a distinctive flavor to curries and other dishes. Growing your own turmeric is an easy way to get high-quality, organic turmeric with all the health benefits and without the cost.
HOW TO GROW TURMERIC: WHERE TO START
The easiest way to start a turmeric plant is to buy a piece of fresh root. Turmeric root is available in many grocery stores or online. Buy organic turmeric roots when possible.
Look for roots that are firm, plump, and free of mold. Roots that are at least 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) long are best, and get a few just in case they don’t all sprout.
If you get a root with many branches on it, you can cut it into smaller pieces with a clean knife and plant each piece separately.
Turmeric can take from seven to ten months from planting until harvest, and it can’t tolerate temperatures lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you’ll have to grow your turmeric indoors for most of the year if you live in a colder climate. Turmeric will typically produce best if you plant it in late winter, regardless of whether you grow it indoors or outdoors. Choose a container at least 12 inches wide and deep if you’ll be keeping it inside. A smaller pot is fine if you’ll be transplanting it outside.
Plant your roots about 2 inches deep in a well-draining potting soil, with the roots lying flat on the soil. Make sure the potting mix is fairly rich. You can buy a soil that’s made for vegetables or add some compost to a regular potting mix.
Shoots should start to come up in about a month. You can plant them outside once they’re a few inches tall, or leave them inside in a hot, sunny window. The mature plants will be over 3 feet tall, so make sure they have room to grow.
HOW TO HARVEST TURMERIC
The plants will naturally start to die back when they’re ready to harvest. The leaves and stem will turn brown and become dry. At this point, you can dig up your turmeric plants. Shake all the soil off the roots and cut off the stems, leaving about 1-inch stubs.
Rinse the roots off well, but be careful not to damage them. Any scratches or nicks will shorten their storage time. Remember to set aside a few roots to replant for next year’s harvest. Roots in good condition will last up to 6 months in your fridge. They can also be frozen for longer storage.
Add this fresh turmeric in your favorite recipes. And don’t forget to save some root for next years crop!