Growing Turmeric - Day 231 - Haiku - On the Benefits of Turmeric, and Growing Our Own Food and Medicine!
easy and satisfying
The night before last I finally harvested my turmeric from the large pot in which I've been growing it for the past season.
This may surprise some who follow my blog, as I'm in Middle Tennessee, and we've already had several hard freezes, but I've always taken care to bring it inside before we reached freezing temperatures, so it did perfectly fine.
Of course it would have fared better had I actually cared for it properly this year, but this was both a crazy busy year and one in which our farm was put largely on the back burner, so for a "survival of the fittest" garden crop, it did quite well.
I initially planted three quite small rhizome pieces, perhaps half an ounce or 14 grams total, and was surprised to discover that one had roughly tripled in size, one did nothing, and the third had grown massively . . . so virtually all the leaves we had this year were from the third rhizome.
Our total take was just over 7.6 ounces, or about 215 grams. Mind you, had this been properly planted in a raised bed with ample sun and moisture, we would have gotten about three times that amount, and possibly more.
I've been growing them thus far on our covered front porch, as the black pot is shielded from the hot afternoon sun, which means that the rhizomes aren't being overheated, but the plants are also not getting the full amount of sun that they need to really thrive.
Still, the turmeric I harvested is of high quality, of a deep and luscious orange beneath the skin, and it smells and tastes wonderful.
We definitely have enough to use fresh this winter, and I've repotted the one that tripled in size for next season. And this time I'll plant it out properly come spring, and hopefully, with supplemental lighting and heat over the winter, it will be large enough by then to divide. ;-)
So for those interested in growing turmeric in large pots, as I've done for the past few years, here are some basic instructions to get you started:
The thing to remember about turmeric and ginger is that they are true tropicals, and in nature spread out into large clumps. So their roots grow more horizontally than vertically, thus a wider rather than deeper pot is best, and a raised bed with ample sun is best of all.
I'm currently growing mine in 3-gallon nursery pots, which are roughly 12" wide and deep.
Fill about 2/3 full with a good quality well-draining potting soil, I always add in a cup or so of rabbit poo, which nearly all plants love, and if you can find some, coconut coir makes a great addition, as it stimulates root growth.
I also add a cup or so of food grade diatomaceous earth for added minerals.
Place your rhizomes with buds facing up, or if no obvious buds, lay horizontally, and cover with a couple more inches of soil, tamping down to at least an inch or two below the rim of the pot.
Soak well for the first watering; I usually place mine in a large saucer and let them sit with water in the tray for an hour or so before draining, to make certain that all the soil is saturated. Don't leave them for much longer than that, though, as you don't want them to rot.
From then on, the fastest way to kill them is to overwater them. Use the tried and true method of sticking your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle: if it is damp, don't water. If not, do. Easy.
Turmeric (and it's cousin ginger) can be planted at any time of year, but they will stay dormant in winter without supplemental lighting and heat, so go light on watering until they start actively growing in spring, meaning when you see leaves beginning to break the surface of the soil.
In Florida my large clump of ginger started growing around the end of May, and same with the ginger and turmeric I overwinter inside in Tennessee.
Interestingly, my ginger in Florida survived several hard freezes, but it was quite a large clump, and many years old when we bought the place. The leaves would get burned, but the clump always survived. In Largo, Florida, we rarely reached even 32 degrees F, much less any lower. No way it would survive our much harsher winters in Tennessee.
Of course, there was some disagreement over whether that clump was actually culinary ginger or an ornamental variety. Even though I gardened there for twelve years, I never dug any up to try it, though I can say that the flowers smelled heavenly.
Wonderful stuff. I really miss our yard there.
The photo above was taken of my freshly harvested turmeric, shortly after rinsing off the potting soil, and before removing the small roots. I typically allow them to dry for a day or two, until they pull off fairly easily, so as to avoid damaging the rhizome.
I won't be drying and powdering it, as I buy powdered turmeric in bulk, so this will be mostly used in stir fries, soups and for fermenting, such as the new batch of fire cider I'll start as soon as I source some fresh horseradish.
This post, and all those from now until the end of 2018, I am dedicating to the work of #tarc and #yah, aka @rhondak's nonprofit Appalachian dog rescue, and @sircork's international charity @youarehope.
Half the liquid proceeds earned from my posts will be evenly split between the two organizations, and more when I can manage it.
The photos above were taken by me, mostly earlier tonight, with my Samsung Note 8 smartphone.
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