By George Zapo
Turmeric is a golden colored, strongly flavored ancient spice with a wide range of health benefits. Renowned for centuries as both food and medicine, turmeric has resurfaced within the health and nutrition communities thanks to curcumin — the healing substance that supplies its vibrant color.
Turmeric not only adds flavor to food, it also has scores of healing properties. At present, there have been thousands of peer-reviewed articles published proving the health benefits of this phenomenal plant.
How to Grow Turmeric Indoors
If you enjoy growing your own food, and if you find the spice to be expensive, you’ll be surprised to find out how easy it is to grow your own supply of this ancient spice in your home.
Turmeric is a perennial shrub native to Southern Asia. Like ginger, turmeric does not propagate seeds. The plant produces rhizomes (roots) with a deep orange flesh. When the rhizomes are dried, they can be ground to make the familiar vibrant, yellow powder.
Growing turmeric indoors is easy — requiring only a few items and simple steps to follow.
Since this flowering plant is not small, you should select a pot, or container, with good drainage holes — at least 14 inches by 14 inches.
You will also need a large, firm turmeric rhizome that has plenty of bumps, or buds. Each bump, or bud, is capable of growing a sizable plant.
Most garden stores don’t sell turmeric rhizomes. Nevertheless, you can find them in some health or whole food stores. Indian food stores may also be a great supply source for you, as well.
Follow these simple steps:
- Break a larger rhizome into a small rhizome piece that has two or three buds.
- Fill your pot with rich organic soil, which is lightly moist, but well drained.
- Place the small rhizome piece about two inches below the surface of the soil, with the buds facing up.
- Water the container.
Caring for Your Plant
To be successful in growing turmeric indoors, you should give your plant a climate that mimics its natural home as much as possible.
Turmeric grows best in a warm, humid climate. It also likes water. Keep the soil moist, particularly in hot, dry climates. Water it at least once every two days. The plant also likes to be misted frequently, so misting it with a spray bottle once a day is suggested. But don’t allow your plants to sit in water — turmeric needs good drainage.
However, water your plant less often if you live in cooler climates. The key is to keep the soil from ever getting soggy.
Fertilize your plant regularly, as well.
Harvesting Your Plant
It takes between six to 10 months for the edible rhizomes to mature. In the mean time, while the rhizomes are maturing, you can harvest and eat the stems and leaves.
But the real benefit of growing this renowned plant comes from its rhizomes, or roots.
After six months, check the rhizomes regularly to see if they’re large enough — about the size of ginger. The rhizomes are best if they are harvested all at once, so, dig up all the rhizomes from the pot when they are large enough.
For the next planting season, you can also take one of the healthy rhizome pieces you just grew and plant it the same way you planted the first one. However, you should change the soil, because the original plant probably depleted most of the soil’s nutrients.
Storage and Use
Turmeric rhizomes should be kept in a cool, dry place. When you are ready to use them, follow these directions:
- Boil the rhizome, or root, for 45 minutes.
- Let the rhizome dry for about one week.
- Peel the root while wearing gloves to prevent dying your hands bright yellow.
- Grind the peeled rhizomes into the healthy and tasty spice that is used in so many recipes.
Turmeric is a super spice. Many experts believe the plant may have over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications.
It has both antibacterial and antiseptic properties, making it great for cleaning and treating wounds. But what makes the turmeric rhizomes and the curcumin derived from this plant so popular is its anti-inflammatory properties where studies have shown to rival those found in ibuprofen.
Unlike over-the-counter drugs, turmeric has no toxic effects on the body. Turmeric has been used for food and medicine for at least 4,000 years. And the turmeric flower is beautiful — making this a wonderful houseplant.