Turmeric is a spice used a lot in Indian cooking and it is said to have a wide range of different health benefits. For example, turmeric has been scientifically proven to improve heart health and prevent the development of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, with the aid of a polytunnel, you can start growing turmeric at home in almost no time! Here’s our guide on growing turmeric right here in the UK.
Turmeric is a spice native to South Asia, where it is used to the natural warm, tropical conditions. Unfortunately, the fact that turmeric is a tropical plant makes it unfortunately impossible 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, such as a polytunnel, during the winter months, it is possible to grow this vividly coloured spice at home.
Turmeric, like ginger, is derived from roots. To start growing turmeric plants yourself, you cannot simply 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.
You should plant turmeric in a container of 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.
First, you should plant turmeric 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.
Then, 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. Then, you can dig up your tubers for use and replant some, if you wish, for the following year. However, the turmeric roots can stain your plants yellow, so wear gloves when you are harvesting the tubers.
You should store your turmeric 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 you can usually use it either finely sliced or minced.
Growing turmeric in your polytunnel is an absolute treat. And, once you’ve harvested your turmeric, you can use it regularly in the kitchen. For example, turmeric makes a great addition to scrambled eggs, rice, roasted vegetables, and soups; check out our recipe for runner bean chutney with turmeric. With our tips for growing turmeric, you’ll have your own fresh supply in no time.