A couple of months ago I returned to the city after long travels overseas. It was the end of February, and Mumbai’s typically unspectacular winter was drawing to a close. My urban farm had survived, cared for by family in my absence. Turmeric and sweet potato I had planted the previous year had become lush with foliage and ripe with root.
And I knew it was time to get back to my own roots again, and get my hands dirty!
So here’s the first fully-grown turmeric plant that I set my sights on…
….and this is what the sweet potato patch looked like.
Turmeric plants take 8-10 months to develop good roots. Sweet potato can mature faster and have ripe roots even at 6 months. One sign of maturity is drooping, yellowing leaves. When that occurs, you could stop watering for a few days to dry out roots before harvest, or skip the struggle with hard, root-bound earth and go the watery way. So with a tub of water by my side and well-worn gloves on my hands, I set forth! Not for the fastidious, harvesting roots can be a thoroughly messy, and immensely interesting experience!
Cannonball sized sweet potatoes, wet earth and muck – and I’m lovin’ it!
Time for turmeric…Wait! Could that gooey stuff be edible???
Spiffed up and goo-free, this bunch looks ready to party!
And a stiff haircut later…check out my golden roots of pure goodness!
Turmeric and sweet potato are some of the easiest plants to grow in Mumbai’s climate. They look great in your garden, need very little fussing, give you fun times at harvest, and the satisfaction of wholesomeness in the food you eat. I can vouch for the fact that the sweet potatoes we grow taste far better than commercially grown ones. And the turmeric roots which we then sliced, boiled, dried and pulverised, is pure and heady in scent, rich in taste and imbued in an orange color so heartstoppingly deep, and so completely unlike the timid, pale ochre variants of store bought turmeric powder. It made me wonder what exactly it was that I took for turmeric powder all these years. What adulterated contaminants had I been ingesting every time turmeric was added to our curries? Quite obviously, a lot. If you don’t believe me, ask your parents or grandparents who may have lived through a simpler age of self-grown, organic and wholesome farm food….
So now you know! And you could just take up the challenge and grow some turmeric yourself to see the difference!
Until the next time then, have fun as you grow!