Turmeric is a spice used a lot in Indian cooking and it is said to have a wide range of different health benefits. Unfortunately, this is a tropical plant and so it is not possible to grow it outside or in an unheated space in the UK. That said, with a lot of care and attention, and by growing it in containers which can be brought indoors or into a well-heated space during the winter months, it is possible to grow this vividly-coloured spice at home.
Turmeric, like ginger, is derived from roots. To grow your own turmeric plant you cannot plant seeds but must get your hands on a section of root. You may sometimes be able to find root sections for sale in a supermarket or a specialist goods market, or from a specialist plant nursery in your area or online. Buy several root sections so as to get the best chance of success with at least one of them.
Turmeric should be planted in a container or rich, good quality soil. Turmeric is a hungry plant and will benefit also from regular feeds with an organic plant feed such as one that you might use for tomato plants. Plant roots with the root down and an 'eye' facing upwards in around March or April. It is best to leave the root section exposed at the top so as to avoid the chances of it rotting. It is likely that you will need to grow these in a heated propagator or a heated conservatory in the UK.
By May you should be able to see some green shoots appearing. When the plants begin to die back towards the winter, around ten months after planting, you should be able to harvest the larger roots for use in your recipes.
The turmeric roots should approximately double in size over the course of the year if they are given the right conditions and fed adequately. You can then dig up your tubers for use and replant some, if you wish, for the following year. The turmeric roots can stain your plants yellow so wear gloves when you are harvesting the tubers. Turmeric is best stored with the skin still on in an airtight container until it is needed. It can store for several months in this way. It is not usually possible for home growers to dry turmeric and powder it, so it is usually used either finely sliced or minced.
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