Curcumae Longae, which we commonly know as turmeric or curcumin, has an important place in Ayurvedic medicine and the South Asian cuisine. This herb originated in Southern Asia and gained its name from the word ‘curcuma’ which itself originated in ‘kurkum’ (an Arabic term). It means ‘saffron’ which refers to its orange coloration. It has had been in use even during the Biblical times for spicing foods, coloring clothes and making perfumes.
Herbal Benefits & Applications
There is no limit to the kind of medical applications of organic turmeric. Its use in traditional medicine was for joint pain, bruises, joint inflammation, strains, sprains, cold/flu, and digestive disorders.
Scientists have found the following health benefits of turmeric:
- Assisting in the breakdown of liver toxins
- Boosting the functioning of the gallbladder
- Stopping blood clotting
- Assisting in metabolizing lipids (fats)
It has also been found to be a breast cancer, and other body parts.
Growing Organic Turmeric in your Home
Turmeric is a perennial plant that can be grown in your home. It will re-shoot in the spring. It requires fertile and properly drained soil, and warmth. It can grow under both direct and indirect sun.
Turmeric is ideally suited to tropical areas where there is lots of moisture and heat. It cannot survive winters, but as long as you have a temperate summer climate, it can thrive. It is recommended to plant turmeric roots in late spring. There is no need for any special equipment or method. Just plant the fresh roots into the soil.
The future plantings can involve planting the dry rhizome from turmeric. You will notice the shoots within 2 months. You can start harvesting the rhizomes in 7-10 months after planting. A good sign to tell this is when the stems and leaves turn dry.
How to Harvest?
When you notice that the herb has become dry, dig out its entire root. It is recommended to harvest it when the summer growing season comes to an end.
Drying – The harvested turmeric has to be dried to yield its health benefits. Use the following steps to dry it:
- Boil the harvested turmeric roots
- Leave the roots to dry in the sun
- A dehydrator may also be used for drying
You can, however, use grate and use turmeric roots in their fresh form as well.
Each turmeric plant yields around 700g of fresh root. Fresh roots should be stored in the fridge. But dried roots can be powdered and kept in airtight containers.
The essential oil found in turmeric is beneficial in treating different skin problems, fungal infections, bruises, athlete’s foot, sprains, muscular pains, and other problems.
Chemicals in Turmeric
Phenolic curcuminoid is the primary chemical in turmeric. The roots also have polysaccharides that help in boosting your immunity.
Turmeric has not been associated with any contradictions. But it is not recommended for those who are pregnant. It has also been linked to stimulating menstruation and has been suspected to induce abortion.
You should also be careful not to take turmeric and certain drugs at the same time. Diabetes drugs which are known to lower blood sugar are specifically to be taken care of.
Tips for Cultivating Turmeric
The following tips will help you cultivate turmeric in your home.
Just like ginger, turmeric also grows from rhizomes – cuttings from its root. There are no seeds involved.
- Take a large fresh turmeric rhizome and break it into small pieces with 2-3 buds.
- Fill the pot with organic soil. Make sure it is moist yet properly drained.
- Dig the soil 2-inch deep and place the rhizome in it ensuring that the buds face up.
- Make sure to water the container.
You should add compost tea/organic fertilizer once every two months to the soil.
Because of its so many health benefits, turmeric is nothing less than a super spice. Scientists claim more than 600 therapeutic and preventative uses of this herb.
Because of the antibacterial and antiseptic benefits of turmeric, it is used to treat and clean wounds. The anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric make it even better than ibuprofen.
Watering Tips for Turmeric
For turmeric to grow well, the soil has to be kept moist. This is more important in hot and dry climates. You can mist it using a spray bottle or simply water it every 2 days. But make sure that you don’t make the soil soggy. But watering should be reduced when living in a cooler place.
The rhizomes in turmeric take 8-10 months for maturing. Even the stems and leaves of the plant are edible. You can harvest the root throughout its growing season, but it will be best to harvest the roots once.
When you notice that the rhizomes have become large and the leaves have dried, dig them out. Make sure to store some pieces to be planted the next season. It is important to change the soil, as its nutrients will have to be replenished after every harvest.
How to Store & Use Turmeric?
The roots of turmeric need to be stored in a cool and dry place. But you should follow these steps before using them:
- Make sure the roots are boiled for 45 minutes
- Let the turmeric dry for a week
- Peel the roots wearing gloves (otherwise, the roots can dye your hands yellow)
- Grind the dried roots to get the powdered spice that can be used in different recipes.