TURMERIC GROWING INFORMATION © Frances Michaels
BOTANICAL NAME: Curcuma domestica syn. Curcuma longa
COMMON NAMES: turmeric; Indian saffron; ukon; nghe; wong-keong
FAMILY: Zingiberaceae, the ginger family
Turmeric is native to the monsoon forests of south east Asia. It is a perennial herb to 1m tall with underground rhizomes. It produces tall, very beautiful, white flower spikes, if clumps are left undisturbed for a year. The flower is so attractive that it is worth growing for this alone. It requires a well-drained soil, frost-free climate and 1000 to 2000mm of rain annually or supplementary irrigation. It thrives best on loamy or alluvial fertile soils and cannot stand waterlogging. Heavy shade will reduce the yield but light shade is beneficial.
Ground turmeric comprises 25% of curry powder and is used to give it a yellow colour. The harvested rhizomes are boiled and sun-dried for 7-8 days but can be used fresh. It is also used as a yellow food dye, replacing tetrazine. Leaves wrapped around fish flavour it during cooking. In Indonesia, the young shoots and rhizome tips are eaten raw.
Plant turmeric in September or October, into a warm soil. The rhizomes should be planted 5-7 cm deep. It is often planted on ridges, usually about 30-45 cm apart and with 15-30 cm between plants. The crop is planted by setts (small rhizomes) with one or two buds. Approximately 1,700 kg of setts are required to one hectare. Expected yield would be 13 to 35 tonnes/ha of fresh turmeric. In cooler areas of Australia turmeric can be grown in glasshouses. Like all herbaceous perennials clumps of turmeric need to be broken up and fresh pieces planted every 3 to 4 years.
Rhizomes are harvested 9 to 10 months after planting, the lower leaves turning yellow or stems drying and falling over are indications of maturity. It is possible for the home gardener to just dig carefully at the side of a clump and remove rhizomes as needed rather than harvesting the whole clump.
Recent research from a study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society into turmeric, commonly used as a spice and curry ingredient, has demonstrated wide-ranging health giving properties.
An anti-inflammatory Ayurvedic healing cuppa.
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric (fresh grated or powder)
- ½ teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
- 2-3 peppercorns
- 2 cups of milk
- Spices (optional) cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne pepper
- Honey to taste
Combine all ingredients except the honey in a pot. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Strain. Add the honey once the mixture has cooled a little.
Golden Milk or haldi ka doodh is used in Indian natural medicine as a winter drink to heal coughs and sore throats. Trendy cafes worldwide are now offering an espresso or golden latte with a similar recipe.
‘Shots’ of juice full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and proven antiviral qualities. This quick drink can help soothe sore throats, cure upset stomachs and will become your favourite daily tonic.
Ginger and turmeric are spices known for their anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties and when combined with orange juice is super easy to prepare.
- 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 12 mm piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 12 mm piece of fresh turmeric, grated
- 2 tablespoons of honey
Stir all the ingredients together. Drink up.