A plant closely related to ginger, turmeric (Curcuma longa) grows from a large rhizome from which grow large broad oblong leaves up to 1 metre tall. An occasional pale yellow or white flower may grow from the centre of the clumps.
Turmeric rhizomes can be a little difficult to find at the green grocer but worth the search. Pieces of the rhizome with one or two buds are planted about 5 cm below the surface in humus rich soil in full sun towards the end of winter and can be encouraged to shoot more quickly if the planting area is covered in plastic to maintain warmth and humidity. Once the shoots appear the plastic can be removed and the plants given regular additions of rotted manure.
The turmeric roots are harvested in autumn with some saved for replanting next year. The remaining turmeric is washed and boiled for about four hours until tender and then removed and allowed to dry in a sunny position until hard and brittle. The root is then ground into a powder and used mostly for its’ colour in curries, mustards and pickles.