How to grow turmeric in Perth

Growing turmeric in Perth

The well known main ingredient of Indian curry, the bright yellow colour of the Turmeric tuber can be also used fresh in salads.  Fresh turmeric elevates whatever you’re cooking, however it can be quiet expensive. What a lot of people don’t realise is just how easy it is to grow turmeric at home in Western Australia.  A member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), turmeric rhizomes have brown skin with bright orange flesh. Although often grown as an annual, it is a perennial herb growing 1 metre in height. If left undisturbed for a year, it will reward you with magnificent flowers and large green leaves in Summer. If you want to take your home cooking to the next level fresh turmeric is a must. Even the hipsters have gotten onto it with turmeric latte’s all the rage in trendy cafes.

Growing turmeric in the northern part of Western Australia where the climate is hotter and more humid is much easier.  However, growing turmeric in Perth or further south where the climate is cooler is a little bit trickier.

Because turmeric originates in tropical and sub-tropical Asia it likes warm weather, humidity and rich, moist soil. In the northern parts of Western Australia like Broome, it usually needs a part shade position, but in cooler areas, full sun is usually best. Turmeric grown in pots can be moved around to make the most of sunlight availability. Additionally a green house will help to replicate the more humid climate in the cooler parts of Western Australia. Turmeric should also be moved away from strong winds and frost which can kill the dormant rhizomes.

The earlier you start, the more time your rhizomes have to develop so for the best results plant in September or October. Leave rhizomes to sprout on the window sill.

Types of turmeric:
Due to import restrictions with WA varieties might be limited in your local nursery. Madras Turmeric is most common. It is pale yellow, has a Curcumin content on average of 3.5% and is the one most commonly seen in supermarkets. Madras Turmeric is best used when a bright yellow colour is wanted (in pickles for example) and has a mild flavour.

How to plant turmeric in a garden:

  1. Important steps on how to grow turmeric from root are as follows:
    Choose part shade spot in your garden with well drained soil. Enrich with soil improver and plant fertiliser.
  2. Plant the root piece out in 35 cm intervals, 5 cm deep. Cover lightly with seed raising mix and water well.
  3. Water regularly. Feed weekly with Yates liquid plant food.
    Harvest by digging the roots out in autumn.

How to grow turmeric in a pot:
I’ve found growing turmeric in Perth in a container a great solution. Over winter I move it into a more sheltered position so it survives the chill.

  1. Choose a pot at least 300 mm wide and deep and position in a bright or part shade spot. Fill with quality potting mix, such as potting mix with dynamic lifter.
  2. Plant the root piece out in 35 cm intervals, 5 cm deep. Cover lightly with seed raising mix and water well.
  3. Water regularly. Feed weekly with liquid plant food.
  4. Harvest by digging the roots out in autumn.

When to harvest turmeric:
Your rhizomes will be ready to harvest after approximately 8 to 9 months. With a spring planting, this will mean that you will be harvesting late autumn to early winter. You will notice the leaves turning yellow and the stems collapsing at this time. Be careful not to damage the rhizomes when you lift them.

You can also harvest turmeric by carefully digging at the side of a clump and removing rhizomes as needed so you can spread your crop.

Storing turmeric:
Store fresh turmeric in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or airtight container for a week or two, or freeze it for several months.

Turmeric plant care and common problems:
Turmeric like most plants is susceptible to pests such as caterpillars, and scale insects. And diseases including leaf blotch, rhizome rot, and leaf scorching caused by a fungus.

Make your own turmeric powder:
You can make your own turmeric powder by cooking the roots in boiling water, letting them cool, then peeling them and cutting them into small pieces. Let them dry completely in the sun for a few days and grind them into a fine powder using a spice or coffee grinder. Once you have your power you can store it in an air-tight container.

Turmeric’s rise in popularity came after it was hailed a superfood, due to it being a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

The intensely orangey-yellow root is claimed to be beneficial for many health ailments.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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