Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Tummy full of Turmeric keeps the doctor away!

Sweet holiday season, where has the time gone?!

Pardon the slight delay in getting this post to you, I am busily crafting away in the name of holiday goodness, but apologies here mean excuses so on to plant-y goodness!


I'm a big fan of grocery store gardening, where you take produce from the grocery store and grow your own.  I've done this with tomatoes, peppers, papaya, ginger and avocados, but not the ubiquitous pineapple yet.  For some reason I have not found the need/I hear it takes a very long time and I'm not a huge fan of pineapple foliage much anyway.

International grocery stores are my particular brand of candy store.  There's a great variety of foods and everything is so gosh darn fresh that growing produce from the produce is relatively simple.

Being a fan of Indian food I was intrigued when I came upon this:


I've only encountered turmeric in its dried bright orange-yellow powder form and so to find it fresh was exciting to me as we all know fresh vs. dried spices are different experiences.

As I had read somewhere that turmeric is in the same family as ginger and I definitely know ginger is an easy plant to grow/propagate, I decided I wanted to give this a try and see what the spice was like fresh.

Same when I choose pieces of ginger to propagate, look for only the fattest non-blemished pieces you can find with lots of "buds" (those sort of tumor-growth projectile looking things) and if you can find some looking a little green excellent!  I only got enough for planting a small pot I realized later (I'll go back and get more another time for cooking) but I broke off a little piece to take a taste of.

The outside of turmeric is a little more papery skinned than ginger; maybe mine was a little older but it reminded me a bit of an onion with the obvious less layers.  The inside was bright orange like a carrot/sweet potato but crisp, and more fragile than a carrot's texture to me.  The flavor, well, it was sort of like a just slightly bitter carroty icy-hot.  I know, that sounds palatable.  Not amazing, but still intriguing and it's not as though we go around chewing on cinnamon sticks either.  Well, I don't at least.

I left the little turmeric roots alone for a couple of days to allow the bud I broke off to nosh on heal up.  I've planted ginger in haste after having just cut or broken bits off and if you don't let it heal/"scar up" and dry, little nasty organisms or nematodes and other such things will just invade and cause your root to rot and die and all you'll find later is this sad husk of ginger root and you'll be equally sad too.

As I do with ginger, I planted them bud side up, about an inch to half an inch below the soil level of the pot I planned out, watered the roots thoroughly and now it's just a waiting game.

I may up the humidity and heat of the pot by getting a clear plastic bag, inflating it a bit with my breath and rubber-banding it around the top, but I think it's warm enough around here that they'll thrive well.

I'll update you on how things go.  It would be pretty spiffy if I can get it to flower!  From the pics I've seen (and you'll see in the links below) the foliage looks kind of canna-like and the flowers a weird mixture of bromeliad and bells of Ireland!?!

Links about turmeric, its benefits, propagation and recipes: