Grow Turmeric Indoors – It’s Easy and Healthful

close up of pink and white turmeric flower

Grow Turmeric Indoors – It’s Easy and Healthful

Turmeric is the only source in the world for the extremely potent antioxidant curcumin.

Because of the curcumin found in turmeric, it has been a staple medicinal herb for thousands of years among indigenous people as well as professional herbalists.

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. In India it has been used for a very long time as a spice and medicinal herb. Many scientific studies have recently given a thumbs-up to turmeric for its medicinal properties.

Turmeric has been used for muscle and joint pain, as well as inflammation. It is also used to treat and soothe symptoms associated with the flu and common cold.

Due to curcumin’s potential to improve blood vessel lining, turmeric has been used as a preventative measure for heart disease.

There are many other health benefits associated with turmeric such as helping the thwart depression, helping treat Alzheimer’s disease and battle arthritis.

You can find turmeric powder but it’s generally considered better to use fresh turmeric, which is usually available in health food stores – for a price. You can also find the fresh stuff in health food stores and even mainstream grocery stores, but it isn’t cheap either.

But never fear. Turmeric is easy to grow at home as long as you have a large planter and a sunny spot.

—–

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a tropical plant in the same family as ginger.  Turmeric has large green leaves and grows three or more feet tall. As the plant matures each stem sends up a spike of greenish-white and occasionally pink flowers. 

In most parts of the U.S. turmeric will produce best when planted indoors in late winter. You can either keep it inside as a houseplant all summer or move it outside once there’s no more frost. And if you live in Zones 8-11, you can grow it completely outdoors.

How to Grow Turmeric Indoors

Step One

Purchase turmeric rhizomes, which can normally be found at health food stores, supermarkets or even online at Amazon or eBay. Try to select plump rhizomes with lots of buds (bumps) along the sides of the rhizome.

Step Two

Cut your rhizomes into sections, with two or three buds on each section. Fill 3-inch pots halfway with potting soil. Lay the rhizome sections flat on the soil and cover with more potting soil. Water well and place the pots into clear plastic bags.

Then place the pots in the warmest place you can find because sprouting will be delayed at lower temperatures.

Step Three

Check your pots every few days. Move the pots to a windowsill or under a grow light once the sprouts emerge. The optimal growing temperature at this stage is 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. You may want to use a heat mat set to 80 if your house isn’t warm enough. Remove the plastic covers as plants outgrow them. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Mist the leaves twice a day. Do not allow the soil to dry out.

Step Four

When your young plants are six to 8 inches tall, transplant them into larger pots filled with potting soil. Turn the heat map down a few degrees each week until you hit 70. Plants in intermediate-sized pots are ready to go in their final pots or planters when they become top-heavy or start sending up more shoots.

Step Five

If you desire, you can move your turmeric plants outside once all chance of frost is past. Provide partial shade for the first few days to keep tender leaves from getting sunburned. Continue to water as needed during the summer and fall to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Feed your growing plants by watering every couple of weeks with compost tea or applying a fertilizer recommended for potatoes or root crops.

Harvest

Your turmeric plants are ready to harvest when the leaves and stem start to turn brown and dry, about seven to 10 months after planting. Tip out the plants, soil and all, and shake the soil off your fresh turmeric. Cut the stems off an inch or so above the mass of rhizomes and wash the rhizomes well.

Storing and Eating

Rhizomes will stay fresh in the fridge for up to six months in an airtight bag or container. You may also toss them in the freezer to save them for longer. Be sure to set a few of the largest rhizomes aside for replanting!

You can make your own turmeric powder by placing the freshly cleaned rhizomes in a pot and covering them with water, bringing them to a boil. Simmer until you can easily pierce them with a fork (depending on their size, this may take an hour or so).

Drain the cooked rhizomes, rub the skin off with your fingers (optional), and dry them in the sun or a food dehydrator set at 140 degrees until they are brittle and snap cleanly when you try to bend them.

Grind dried rhizomes in a spice mill, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle to make turmeric powder for cooking.

Note one: You’re likely to get the best results by planting in late winter through spring. To figure out the optimum time, count back 10 months from your area’s average first frost. If you live in the sunbelt where growing seasons are longer, your planting date is less critical.

Note two: Wear gloves when handling turmeric rhizomes as they will turn your fingers a bright orange – and won’t rub off very easily.

(Source: Jean Nick goodhousekeeping.com )