Turmeric ranks as one of the best spices there is. The bright golden-hued spice has a long history of medicinal use and is often used in curry dishes. The turmeric plant thrives on heat and moisture. Its leaves are long and stripy all year round, except in winter when they become yellow.
The turmeric plant can grow 70-90 cm high slowly spreading to form large clumps with underground rhizomes(roots). Furthermore, the plant produces very beautiful and attractive white flower spikes.
You can plant turmeric at any time in the year. However, the roots sprout well when the soil is warm. The plant thrives in direct sunlight but soil has to be wet all the time. Heavy shade can reduce the yield. The soil has to be well-drained loamy. When preparing your soil, mix compost (how to make compost), cow manure, river sand and some all purpose fertilizer in the soil.
Because turmeric doesn’t produce seeds, you have to start your turmeric plants by using the roots. You can buy turmeric roots pant from your previous produce. Always try to select small roots with one or two buds.
Plant your turmeric rhizomes (roots) in wet soil 20-25 cm apart, 6-7 cm deep. Do not water until the shoots appear 20-45 days from planting depending on the soil temperature. Once the plants grow, keep them well watered.
Caring for Turmeric
You need to water your plants consistently. However, over watering can slow down growth. Furthermore, the tips of the leaves burn when the soil becomes dry, there’s too much sun or insufficient nutrients.
Fertilize around the base of the shoots but away from the stems 4-5 times using a general purpose vegetable fertilizer during the growing period. You can do it every third week.
Pests and Diseases
Spray the foliage with neem oil spray once a month to keep mites that can kill the plant away. Forceful water spray of the turmeric plant can wash away spider mites. Turmeric plants are also prone to fungal diseases that cause brown spots on the leaves. Spraying an organic fungicides can help the plant from drying and wilting.
Harvesting turmeric is easy. All you have to do is dig up the entire plant including the roots 9 to 10 months after planting. You need to grow fresh plants every year. Or leave a few roots inside while harvesting that will re-shoot later. You can harvest approximately 800 grams of fresh roots per plant. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow or stems start drying.
Making Turmeric Powder
Use gloves to peel the roots because you’ll end up with a yellow stain on your hands. Boil turmeric in water, then cut the them into small pieces. Spread them on a plate and cover it with a mesh. Allow them to dry completely. Then grind the pieces to a fine powder in a spice. Store the powder in airtight glass bottle in a cool place.