Turmeric is one of the more popular edibles recently, due to the increased awareness of its many health benefits. But what people don’t know is that it can be grown at home. This was one of our fun gardening experiments of the year, mostly inspired by the sheer determination to be able to “grow curry.” But that’s a topic for another post.
Turmeric is a relative of ginger, and it does grow pretty much the same way. You can find that information in the archives here, or on our website under How to Grow Ginger, Turmeric.
We purchased our rhizomes from Amazon, and they did look a bit on the old side. They actually took 6 weeks to sprout, which is much longer than usual. You can find fresher ones at stores that carry Indian foods, or now in some seed catalogs such as Jung Seed.
We planted ours the end of April, some a few inches under the potting soil, and a few others close to the soil level, which we have learned ginger prefers. It wasn’t until early June that any life signs were seen.
To be honest we had all but given up on it, so perhaps the less frequent watering challenged it to grow. Or perhaps, because turmeric actually likes water, the rhizomes we purchased were just not very fresh.
The more shallow-planted rhizomes sprouted the best. It takes about 8 months to grow to maturity, a little less than ginger. So here in the Northeast it was outside in the summer, then back indoors when the weather started to cool. Like its cousin, it made a very pretty houseplant. By December we were able to start harvesting the larger roots. Note that when you use turmeric, it will turn everything yellow, including your hands. This is easy enough to get rid of though.
You can harvest as needed, or simply pickle what you pull out in a little vinegar and lime juice. Be sure to save the best rhizomes for replanting.
Botanical name: Curcuma longa
Hardiness: Prefers temperatures between 70˚F and 90˚F
Height: About 3 feet
Days to maturity: 8 months, give or take
Uses: Culinary, medicinal and as a dye
Storage: Store fresh for quite a while, dehydrate and then grind into a powder as needed. Like ginger, it can be pickled.
Gardening Jones is a Pennsylvania-based master gardener. Read her other Horticulture posts here and learn more at gardeningjones.com/.
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