What smells great, looks gorgeous in the garden, and has fantastic natural health benefits? Ginger and turmeric, of course!
Ginger and turmeric are impressive enough on their own, but they make for a genuinely next-level culinary pair. Knowledge of their extensive health benefits is not new. In fact, humans have consumed them for thousands of years for their holistic properties. Ginger ‘root’ dates back to ancient China, used both as a medicine and a culinary ingredient. Historically, turmeric was grown in southeast Asia, and India remains the primary producer worldwide.
These rock-star spices come from a part of their respective plant called a rhizome, a well-established stem that grows sideways (rather than vertically) and runs along the soil’s surface or just below it. As rhizomes branch out, they can develop roots and shoots of their own. You have probably seen these rhizomes in the grocery store many times, but both ginger and turmeric like warm, humid climates, making Florida an ideal place to grow them!
Selecting Your Ginger & Turmeric Rhizomes
There are many different ginger varieties, but most of them are ornamental. The ginger that we use as an edible spice is called Zingiber officinale, which you can find in grocery stores. When you select your ginger or turmeric rhizome, be sure to grab a plump, taupe-colored piece that has multiple nubs (which are leaf buds!) and is free of mushy or dark brown spots.
Keep in mind that if you are purchasing turmeric or ginger rhizomes from the grocery store, there is a fair likelihood that they were sprayed with a growth inhibitor, which prevents them from sprouting in stores. To avoid this, keep an eye out for certified organic rhizomes or source them locally.
Decide on the size of raised bed you want and how tall you want it to be. Cut four matching posts to the correct height from 2×4’s. If your bed will be a long rectangle, it’s a good idea to include another post or even two halfway down the long side for extra stability.
Growing Ginger & Turmeric in Pots
Both ginger and turmeric hail from warm, humid climates, and both require quite an extensive growing season (anywhere from eight to ten months frost-free), so we recommend planting in early spring. They grow well in full sun to partial shade but may need a little extra protection from the sun in the heat of the summer as they can be sensitive to scorching.
If you plant your rhizomes in containers, keep in mind that you do not need to plant them very deep (10 to 12 inches at most), but they will need a good amount of space to spread. We recommend growing them in pots because you can move them around based on their ideal growing conditions if need be.
While turmeric can be relatively slow to start, you should see some green shoots within one to two months. Around late summer to early fall, turmeric leaves will start to die back, with ginger following shortly after. Once the turmeric leaves turn brown, you can harvest all of those rhizomes. For ginger, you will know that it is ready to harvest once it has blossomed and its leaves start to yellow.
How to Use Your Harvest
The options are almost endless with these two superhero spices! Both have been proven to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, support immune function, and decrease nausea.
You can use ginger and turmeric in salad dressings, stir-fries, and soups, or you can combine them to create a powerful immune-boosting tonic. Many enjoy ginger and turmeric in tea, and even add garlic for some extra immune-boosting superpower!
We hope this article has helped inspire you to grow your very own ginger and turmeric at home. Visit Living Color if you have any questions about planting or harvesting these powerful superfoods or if you are in the market for other edible plants in Fort Lauderdale.