days to maturity: 8-10 months
plant spacing: 2 per square foot
sunlight requirements: 6-10 hours
look out for: needs very compost rich soil
harvest notes: harvest turmeric rhizomes in spring after plant dies back
Turmeric, native to India and Southeast Asia, is a valuable spice that can easily be grown in the South Florida home garden. Turmeric is used as a dried powder in many Indian dishes and used as a fresh root in juices and tonics. The flavor of turmeric is earthy, musky, slightly bitter with a kick of ginger-like spicy warmth. Its most prevalent as an ingredient in curry pastes and spice blends but it can be used in many ways in the kitchen.
These days, it’s become quite popular as a medicinal plant. Turmeric is considered a superfood as the active compound Curcumin is believed to have a wide range of biological effects including anti- inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, antibacterial, and antiviral. Curcumin is capable of promoting nerve regeneration after nerve injury and is 2,000 times more bioavailable when consumed with capsaicin, most commonly found in black pepper but also found in chili peppers. Turmeric is a blood mover and blood thinner, which helps to improve internal and external circulation. Because of this, anyone on blood thinning medication should use caution around consuming Turmeric as it can magnify the affects of anti-clotting agents.
Like ginger and galangal, turmeric is a prolific root crop grown under a beautiful waxy leafed tropical plant. Plants require fertile soil and can handle partial shade or full sun. This crop is traditionally grown from spring to spring and it does most of its leafy growth during the rainy humid summers, and then the top of the plant will die off and it will focus its energy on growing rhizomes through the dry winter months. Side dressing through the season with new compost is recommended, and if you need access to turmeric before “harvest time” just push the soil around and grab yourself a chunk of rhizome, no need to harvest the whole plant at once. You can also grow turmeric in a 7 gallon pot just make sure to add a bit of compost and organic fertilizer a few times throughout its life.