My next question to my friend was, what do I do with it? Then, how does it grow and what special things do I need to do to keep it alive? The answers were, it's simple, put it in the ground and watch it grow, you harvest it once the plant dies back next winter.
Well, that doesn't sound very hard!
So my trial is now complete, I placed my two tubers in the ground. I had a 'orange' and 'normal' turmeric tuber and placed each in a separate styro-foam box with potting mix, then covered the soil with hay. A few weeks on and I was cooking with gas, well actually I finally had a sprout poking its little snout out of the soil. Then a few weeks later some leaves and eventually a leafy green plant that didn't have to be watered more than fell out of the sky! How simple.
Here are a couple of in progress photos.
About a month ago the plants started to die back. Remembering the conversation about harvesting once this started to happen, I wondered how difficult this harvest and processing would be. Turns out, the harvesting process is just as simple as growing these things. I snapped off the plant or remnants of and dug around in the soil with my hands for the tubers and voila a whole bucket load of turmeric for my greatest cooking delight (I think).
I think I got about 1.5kgs of tubers from the two small nodes that I planted last year.
I reckon the hardest part to this whole plant is knowing what to do with once you harvest it. From my internet reading I understand that you can use it just as you would do ginger in Asian cooking.
Considering the amount of turmeric I have, I have already planted a nodule of each of the two types of turmeric back into a styro-foam box for next year's harvest. I also have plans to share some of my produce with the permaculture group next month.
If you have any recipes that use turmeric that you'd care to share I'll happily try them out, so that I can use up some of this turmeric.