Turmeric is a tropical plant that’s great for growing in warm, humid climates. This spice has quite a few medicinal benefits and has a distinct flavor. Turmeric is even more expensive to buy than its close relative, ginger. Growing your own has financial benefits, as well as medicinal. In addition to learning how to grow turmeric, we’ll also discuss some of the health benefits and a couple of recipes where you can use turmeric.
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric, also referred to as Indian saffron or the golden spice, is a popular ingredient for cooking, but it also has many medicinal purposes that have been used for thousands of years. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric is good to have for pain relief including arthritis, inflammation, digestive ailments, and liver conditions.
How to Grow Turmeric
Compared to ginger plants, turmeric has large green leaves and gets to be about 3-4 feet tall. It likes well-drained soil and takes about 10 months to fully mature. Growing turmeric is pretty easy if you live in a warm, humid location. It likes warm temperatures and humidity. Turmeric grows well in areas that have a hardiness zone of 8 or higher. I would recommend starting in spring and growing in pots if you live up north so that you can bring your turmeric in during colder months. When night temperatures start to dip below 50°F you should start bringing in your turmeric plant. You can also mist your turmeric if you live somewhere dry since they prefer humid climates. Turmeric can handle full sun to partial shade. It also likes protection from the wind.
Step 1 – Select your Turmeric
To get started you can use organic turmeric from your local grocery store or food market. Turmeric is a rhizome, also called a creeping rootstalk. This means it has an underground plant stem which is capable of producing the shoot and root system of a new plant. When you select your turmeric, you’ll want a piece that looks plump and has multiple bumps or nubs. These are where the new stems will grow.
Step 2 – Break Apart and Soak your Turmeric
Turmeric rhizomes are typically smaller than ginger so you may not need to break your turmeric into smaller pieces. You’ll just want to make sure there are a few nubs on each piece. You’ll want to soak your pieces for a few hours before planting. You can soak them overnight if you wish.
Step 3 – Plant your Turmeric
Once you’ve soaked your pieces of turmeric you can plant them. Use a pot with a decent amount of drainage holes. Fill it with potting soil and compost and then plant your turmeric with the nub end pointing up. Make sure it’s completely covered, planting the turmeric root about an inch deep. Water your pot until water starts to flow out of the bottom.
You can start with a small pot and transplant your turmeric later, or plant it in a larger pot from the start. A 14″-18″ pot should give you enough room to grow a decent amount of turmeric. You’ll want to water your plant regularly. Let the top two inches of soil dry between watering to prevent rotting.
Step 4 – Grow and Harvest Your Turmeric
In 2 to 4 weeks you should see the turmeric root start to sprout. After 3 months your plant should be about two feet tall. You will also start to get multiple shoots. After the plant is about 4 feet tall you can start breaking off pieces of the root. It takes about 10 months before your turmeric plant is ready for you to start harvesting. Take care to only harvest outer pieces and leave part of the root still in the ground so that you’ll continue to grow your own turmeric. Once you get started growing your turmeric it doesn’t take as long to harvest additional pieces.
If you’re interested in growing flowering turmeric, this is a different variety of turmeric compared to culinary turmeric. Both types grow the same way, but culinary turmeric flowers are not as spectacular as the kind shown below. Flowers take about 2 years to develop on a mature plant.
Turmeric can be used fresh or as a powder. The two recipes below are quick and easy to make beverages that are healthy and allow you to absorb the benefits of turmeric.
Carrot Turmeric Juice
I drink carrot juice most mornings these days with our Omega Juicer. It’s a great way to absorb nutrients quickly. And while some might say that carrots are high in sugar, I find that a glass of this juice in the morning curbs any sweet tooth I might have throughout the rest of the day.
- 6 large organic carrots
- 1 organic apple, cored and cut into wedges
- 1/2 organic cucumber
- 1-inch piece of organic turmeric
- Place all of the ingredients through your juicer.
- After you’ve juiced all of the ingredients, stir the mixture and serve over ice.
Golden Milk Recipe
Golden milk is a creamy chai-like drink full of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. The piperine in the black pepper enhances the bioavailability of the turmeric’s beneficial curcumin by 2,000 percent, so don’t leave it out!
- 1 cup milk
- 1 inch fresh turmeric
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Local honey or maple syrup, to taste
- Combine all ingredients, except sweetener, in a saucepan and bring to a low boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve, and sweeten with honey or maple syrup to taste.
- Serve warm.
How do you use turmeric? Comment below!