Growing Turmeric + Turmeric Recipes for Healthy Meals 18

Turmeric is the main spice in yellow curry, giving it its warm flavor and golden coloring. Ongoing research suggests that turmeric may have extensive health benefits as well. Grown for its root, it’s much like ginger. And here’s the cool thing about it: growing turmeric is easy.

Turmeric is a plant grown for its root, much like ginger. And here's the cool thing about it: growing turmeric at home is easy.

Of course, I live in a tropical region which means I can grow this healthy tuber outside, but even those of you who live in cooler climes can grow it in pots.

Most recipes call for the dried powder standard on your grocer’s spice rack, but if you’ve got fresh tubers on hand, you can use it instead.

Where to find roots to grow

Admittedly, finding the roots might be harder than actually growing it. Fresh turmeric — here it’s called ‘olena — is pretty readily available at our farmers markets. If you live in a cooler region, you might have better luck checking Asian supermarkets. It’s also available to order online

Turmeric is a plant grown for its root, much like ginger. And here's the cool thing about it: growing turmeric at home is easy.

Planting turmeric

To plant outdoors: Work the ground well and incorporate some compost into your planting area. Separate rhizomes into fingers that each have at least two buds. Plant, buds up, about 2-3″ deep and 12″ apart. Leaves should start to appear in four to six weeks. The plants have lovely wide leaves and can work easily as part of a front yard landscape, so long as they’re placed somewhere that can be dug up once a year or so.

To plant in pots: Use a pot that’s roughly 12″ wide and just as deep. Fill with good quality potting soil, and set rhizome 2-3″ deep. You’ll only plant one finger in each pot. Turmeric likes it warm and will be fine outside during the summer months, so long as you keep the soil damp. It’s freezing weather that’s a problem — you don’t want the roots to freeze. You can start your turmeric plant inside during the early spring, move it outdoors for garden season, then — if it’s not ready to harvest yet, move it inside again when it starts to get cold.

Whether planted in the ground or in a pot, your turmeric plant will appreciate some protection from the hot midday sun.

Turmeric is a plant grown for its root, much like ginger. And here's the cool thing about it: growing turmeric at home is easy.

When to harvest

Turmeric roots are actively growing when the leaves are a lush green. When the leaves start to brown and die back, it’s time to harvest. There are two ways you can do this. One, use a shovel to dig up the entire root ball. Alternatively, you can harvest just some of the turmeric by loosening the soil around the plant and harvesting from the outer part of the root ball, leaving the main portion of the root ball intact, much as you would harvest new potatoes. The plant will sprout green leaves again when it comes out of its dormancy, and produce fresh rhizomes. With this method, the center part of the root ball will get dark and soft. If you pull up an older plant, be sure to use just the robust bright orange fingers.

Turmeric is a plant grown for its root, much like ginger. And here's the cool thing about it: growing turmeric at home is easy.

Wash the soil away from the roots and store in a cool, dry place. You’ll replant some of those rhizomes to start fresh plants. If the tubers start to sprout in storage, plant them as described above.

Turmeric is a plant grown for its root, much like ginger. And here's the cool thing about it: growing turmeric at home is easy.

How to use fresh turmeric

As a dye: If you’ve ever used turmeric, you know that it stains terribly. Spill it on your counter, get it on your hands; the yellow will last for quite some time. You won’t be surprised to know that turmeric has been used as a dye for centuries.

Medicinally: While lately turmeric is the talk of the town — so to speak — in natural healing communities, its use as a nutritional supplement or herbal treatment is not new. These days, there’s discussion about its ability to aid osteoarthritis pain, reduce inflammation, or even assist in the treatment of cancer, but it’s been used medicinally for a long time. PBS talks about the history of turmeric and its medicinal uses.

It was around 500 BCE that turmeric emerged as an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural healing that is still practiced today. Ayurveda translates to “science of life”– ayur meaning “life” and vedameaning “science or knowledge.” Inhaling fumes from burning turmeric was said to alleviate congestion, turmeric juice aided with the healing of wounds and bruises, and turmeric paste was applied to all sorts of skin conditions – from smallpox and chicken pox to blemishes and shingles.

Dry it: The dried powder will keep longer than the fresh roots. If you prefer keeping the powder on hand, you can make your own. Head over here to find out how.

Cooking with turmeric: You can use fresh turmeric in place of powdered in recipes. Substitute a one inch piece of turmeric for one teaspoon of the ground spice. You’ll want to grate it finely for most recipes. One of the easiest ways to incorporate this healthy spice into your diet is to simply toss a piece of the fresh root into a smoothie. A one inch piece will do nicely; add more if you’re especially fond of the flavor it brings.

Turmeric is a plant grown for its root, much like ginger. And here's the cool thing about it: growing turmeric at home is easy.

Recipes to try:


Golden milk [Fresh Bites Daily]

Fire Cider [Joybilee Farm]

Turmeric Tonic with Coconut Water, Ginger, and Honey [Mommypotamus]

Iced Golden Tea [Fresh Bites Daily]

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade [Cotter Crunch]


Immune Boosting Hash Browns [The Homestead Lady]

Breakfast Muffins [Green Kitchen Stories]

Persimmon Porridge [Nutrition Stripped]

Scrambled Egg Curry [Tickling Palates]

Curried Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls [Back to her Roots]

Turmeric and Cinnamon Pumpkin Pancakes [Produce on Parade]

Turmeric Bombs [Empowered Sustenance]

Lunch and Dinner: 

Chicken Tikka Masala [The Roasted Root]

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup [Chew Out Loud]

Curried Cabbage with Cashews [Washington’s Green Grocer]

Grilled Turmeric Chicken [Serious Eats]

Butter Chicken [Recipe Tin Eats]

Chicken Shawarma [Jo Cooks]

Roasted Cauliflower [Reluctant Entertainer]

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18 thoughts on “Growing Turmeric + Turmeric Recipes for Healthy Meals

  • Chris

    Ok, you had me at Butter Chicken and Chicken Shawarma. Now I’m drooling…I may have to change the menu tonight….

    Thanks for sharing my Fire Cider recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      We’ve been eating a lot of Indian food lately and loving it.

  • Tessa

    I’ve been kicking around the idea of growing if for awhile – maybe this will give me the push I need. My biggest problem is that I stink at indoor plants and would need to bring this in for the winter. Sound like I just really NEED my greenhouse. Turmeric is a very good reason to finally build the greenhouse!

  • Krystal Frank

    What about storing your harvest? If you don’t dry the root and create powdered turmeric, can the root be stored in any way?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      It lasts quite awhile, like fresh ginger. I washed mine up and have some in the fridge, and some in a cool, dry place. So far they’re fine and it’s been a couple of months. I’ve also heard that you can freeze it.

    • Lemongrass

      after harvesting my turmeric, I grate the root and freeze them on a pie dish. Spread a thin layer on the dish to freeze overnight. Leave the dish on the counter for a few minutes. Using a butter knife, lift the turmeric. Break into small pieces and place in a wide mouth glass jar. Return to the freezer. Use as needed.

  • Dave Ely

    Have been wanting to grow turmeric for some time now but can’t find out anywhere how long a growing season I need. I live in northwest Ohio and typically our growing season (frost-free) is from mid May to mid October. Is 5 months long enough to mature this plant? I imagine I can store the roots to replant the following year as I would with canna’s, dahlia’s, etc. Is growing fresh turmeric in my future or should I just stick with the powdered form where I am unsure of the purity or freshness? Thank you very much.

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      The growing season is *about 6-8 months. If you want to try it, I’d plant some in a pot a couple months early and keep it inside to get started. Once it warms up, move it outside.

  • Arlene

    Do I peel the root before I slice it for dehydrating?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      The fresh root is pretty soft and should be fine if you leave it in place. Just wash it well.

      • Betty

        Where can I find a plant or root to start growing turmeric

        • Kris Bordessa Post author

          I believe Baker Creek Seeds had them in their catalog last year.

        • Mitch

          If you have a big Indian(Hindu) community in your area you will find their vegetable store carry this roots. I just bought some and started its propagation. Good luck to you.

  • Arlene

    What is the preferred pH level for this plant?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      Oh, goodness. That’s not something I tested.

  • David Page

    Are there any interactions with medication such as warfarin or diabetes/ blood pressure meds?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      This I don’t know. I’d ask your doctor.