Our plant of the month for February is… TURMERIC! An essential for any subtropical garden, turmeric grows well in our climate and has myriad medicinal and culinary uses.
Turmeric Growing Information
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 south east Asia.
It is a perennial herb, 1m tall with underground rhizomes.
Grows from the characteristic orange/yellow rhizome with broad oblong leaves.
It thrives in tropical and sub-tropical regions planted into well-drained humus-rich soils in autumn and winter.
It requires a well-drained soil, frost-free climate
It thrives best on loamy, fertile and well-drained soil (dislikes being waterlogged).
Turmeric is a heavy feeder so top up with compost once it starts vigorously growing in spring.
Heavy shade will reduce the yield, but light shade is beneficial.
Make sure it gets plenty of water once the weather warms up.
Uses: Food, Medicine, Dye
The rhizomes can be eaten raw (sliced or as a paste) or dried and ground to a powder.
It is used in curries, dhal, teas, and tonics.
Turmeric has an important role as an anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric gains its antioxidant strength from curcumin.
It can also be used as a yellow dye.
Planting and Harvesting
The crop is planted by setts (small rhizomes) with one or two buds. Plant turmeric in September or October, into a warm soil.
The rhizomes should be planted 5-7 cm deep, 30cm apart
Like all herbaceous perennials, clumps of turmeric need to be broken up and fresh pieces planted every 3 to 4 years.
When plants die down to the ground in winter, this is the gardener’s cue to harvest the rhizomes.
You can also read more about turmeric in Isabell Shipard’s book “How Can I Use Herbs in My Everyday Life?” available to purchase from Permaculture Noosa for $45. Click this link to purchase today!
This juice is full of vitamin C and antioxidants. It can help soothe sore throats and will become your favourite daily tonic.
- 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice
- 1-2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 1-2cm piece of fresh turmeric, grated
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of honey
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!
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