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Tropical Garden Grow Guide

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Botanic name: Curcuma Longa
Plant Type
Rhizomatous Herbaceous Perennial 
Sun Exposure
Full sun to partial shade
Soil Preference
Grows best in well-drained, sandy soil that is rich in organic matter
Ginger Family
Depth to plant
Plant rhizomes in 2" deep wells with buds facing upwards
8-10 months
3 to 3.5 feet
15-20" apart
Soil PH

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Featured plant for the month of August
(Submitted by Karin Westdyk)

Turmeric is a perennial herb in the ginger family and is most commonly known in Belize as yellow ginger. It has large, oblong leaves, light yellow flowers, and an underground rhizome that can be planted year-round in Belize, but emerges in the rainy season and remains dormant during the dry.

For nearly 5000 years turmeric has been used for food, as a spice for flavoring food, as a yellow dye and as a medicine for treating many ailments.

Though turmeric is mostly used for its edible rhizomes, its leaves and flowers can also be consumed in curries or in pickling.


Making turmeric powder
- Before drying and turning into a powder, wash the rhizomes and cure them
by boiling them until they are soft.
- After cooling, cut into smaller chunks and dry in low heat oven (about 200 degrees) for approximately 2-3 hours.
- Put through food processor, blender, or grinder and strain out powder. Larger chunks left in strainer can go through milling process again until powdered.
- Store in air tight jar in dark place and it will keep for at least a year.

Golden Milk
Golden milk, also known as turmeric milk has gained popularity as it is well known as an immune system booster.
To make golden milk, simply warm milk (cow, goat, almond, soy, hemp) adding turmeric, with a bit of cinnamon and ginger to taste.

Turmeric Veggie Medley
(You can use any 3 vegetables for this recipe)

1 tbsp oil (preferably coconut)
½ cup carrots washed, peeled and chopped
½ cup cauliflower washed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp turmeric freshly grated or ground
1 tsp cumin dried ground
2 tbsp water
½ cup eggplant washed and chopped
garlic chives optional - garnish

Heat on medium coconut oil, carrots, cauliflower, salt and pepper, turmeric, cumin and water. Place lid on top of pan and cook gently for about 2 minutes until the carrots and cauliflower are fork tender and water is mostly evaporated.
Add the eggplant and stir and put lid on for about 1 more minute until the eggplant is tender.
Remove from burner and add garlic chives and toss and serve immediately.

Turmeric Pickled Eggs

Pickled eggs are a great way to preserve eggs for later eating when there is an over-abundance.

8 eggs
1.5 cups cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh turmeric
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tspyellow mustard seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorns

- Drop the eggs into boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes then cool under cold running water. Peel and put into a clean glass jar.
- Put the cider vinegar, 5 oz. water, sugar, turmeric, mustard and spices in a saucepan over a medium heat and gently bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature.
- Once the pickling liquid is cool, pour enough into the jar so that the eggs are fully submerged. Seal the jar and keep in the fridge for at least a day, but they’re best left for a week before trying.

Baked Chicken Thighs with Turmeric

6-8 chicken thighs, skin on, with bone
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin
2 grated garlic cloves
about 2 inch ginger piece grated
a bit over 3/4 cup coconut milk
1 thinly sliced onion
1 1/3 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp maple syrup or honey

- Put chicken thighs in a bowl and add the turmeric, cumin, garlic, ginger and 3 tbsp of the coconut milk. Rub the chicken around in the marinade and leave for at least 15 mins, or longer if you can.
- Preheat oven to 350. Spread the onion and spinach in a tray baking ban or dish  adding the rest of the coconut milk, the maple syrup and 1/3-3/4 cup  water. Bake at 350 oven for 10 mins. Stir often . Place the chicken thighs on top, then return to the oven for another 30 mins, stirring the greens underneath occasionally
- Heat the grill and cook for another 8-10 minutes until the skin is crispy. Serve over rice.

Medicinal and Therapuetic Properties
Medicinally, turmeric has been used:
- for its antioxident properties
- as an anti-inflammatory and for joint pain
- to improve memory and brain function
- to reduce depression
- to lower risk of heart disease
- to lower blood sugar
- for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties
- to improve digestion

More on Turmeric..................................................................................................................................

From Christopher Nesbitt of
Maya Mountain Research Farm   · Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae ANTI EROSION/MEDICINAL/MARKETABLE/SPICE/SUB CANOPY
Turmeric is a medicinal spice, originally from souther Asia, it has long been cultivated in India. There are many species that are called “turmeric”, with India having up to 40 different species of Curcuma. These species can be found across from Tahitia, to Australia, to Maqdagascar to southern China. In Polynesia and Micronesia, where it is believed no contact occurred with India, it has been traditionally used for millenia. In all of these countries it is used to die clothes, as well as for its culinary and medicinal attributes.
The main species, and the one grown in Belize, is Curcuma longa. Introduced to Toledo during the 1870s by the arrival of East Indians, turmeric does exceptionally well in southern Belize.

Turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Zingiberaceae family, the same family as ginger, that grows about three feet tall. The marketable part is the rhizome, or root, which is generally yellow to orange.
In Belize, it is usually referred to as “yellow ginger”. It grows in the wild in the forests of India, and does well as a ground level component in a multistrata agroforestry system.

In a monoculture, turmeric can produce 8-15 tonnes per acre, per year. For our purposes, we will get less. Turmeric is an excellent sub canopy species in a multistrata agroforestry system. It tolerates shade well, though production may go into decline if shade exceeds 70%. It grows well in the rainy season and then dies back in the dry season. During the dry season the rhizomes have their highest amount of medicinal and flavour properties and that is when the main harvest occurs.

Turmeric can be used as a botanical barrier when planted on contour when the agroforestry system is in the first few years of production. The plant growth above ground creates a barrier to soil and leaf litter from washing down hill, accumulating above and in the plant growth. This helps to feed nutrients to the turmeric. In the dry season it dies back. It is also useful to improve soil structure and break soil up as rhizomes grow, and in harvesting.

Turmeric is used in many ways. In India, it is used as a medicinal plant in ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is used as an anti-inflammatory, to treat and prevent cancer, to prevent Alzheimers, reduce the risk of heart disease, treat the symptoms of arthritis and can reduce the effects of depression. 

If used for medicinal purposes, it should be combined with black pepper which has the alkaloid piperine, which can boost the bodies ability to absorb the polyphenol curcumin, one of the important medicinal elements in turmeric.

The leaves above ground can be used in tamale making if no waha or plantain leaf is available. It is most commonly used as a flavouring in food, especially curries, and to cook traditional Indian rices. Along with annatto, it is often used as a colouring for food such as cheeses,
margarine, yogurt and salad dressings. The flower is edible, though under utilized.

While not invasive, turmeric is persistent. Harvesting rhizomes will almost invariably leave rhizomes and they will grow back the next rainy season.