How To Grow Turmeric

How To Grow Turmeric

It has taken me a couple of years learning how to grow turmeric. It probably took me this long because I didn’t bother finding anything about how it grows or the best way to grow it. So if you are thinking of growing turmeric for its health benefits here are a couple of tips to help you on your way.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 1.

Turmeric SproutingIn the image you can see knobs of turmeric that have been sitting in a container on the bench or in a bucket in the laundry. You can see them all sprouting. So my first tip is wait for the turmeric to sprout before planting.

You can still eat the turmeric, just break off the green shoots and use it the way you always do. Must admit I have difficulty breaking off the green shoots. It’s the same when I need to thin seedlings. Always hard to throw them away.

Growing Turmeric in a sub-tropical Zone

Turmeric is a like weed in Brisbane. It will grow anywhere. It loves the heat and the rain. My garden is a raised bed so the turmeric never gets wet feet, but because I have a drip system throughout my garden it also gets watered well. Raised beds can dry out a lot quicker than a normal garden as raising it above ground level gives more surface area for the water to evaporate from. Especially in the dry weather from May to November.

When I peel the turmeric to put in my meusli, I throw all the peelings and little knobs I break off into the bin I have for scraps to go to the compost pile. I was quite amazed to see turmeric shooting up from various areas in the garden that I had re-composted. I pulled them out and found that they were growing from practically nothing. It was the peels and small knobs that were sprouting.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 2.

Turmeric in Little PotsDon’t be kind to it. See the turmeric in the small pots. I harvested the turmeric in about June. Then broke off some knobs and looked after it every day until December when it finally decided it was time to sprout. What a waste of effort. All I had to do was throw some pieces in a container in the shed and wait for them to sprout.

Once they sprout, then place them in the ground. How hard is that.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 3.

Turmeric From FridgeDon’t store turmeric in the fridge. It turns bitter. I thought I was being really smart. I reckoned I had enough turmeric to get me through from the time I dug it up, I started in April by pinching some from one of the clumps. I kept doing this until June and then dug all of the rest up.

I had about thirty kilos of turmeric and thought that this would last me until April until I could start bandicooting the next season crop. When it started to shoot in late November, I decided to gather up about four kilos that hadn’t started shooting, wrap in newspaper and store it in the crisper in the fridge.

Turmeric in Your Muesli

Turmeric in MuesliThe picture shows the orange turmeric in the meusli. It is home made meusli with oats, sultanas, a couple of varieties of nuts and home made yoghurt. Does it make me feel any better. Not sure about that. I’ve grown to like the taste of it in my breakfast though.

And I have never been as regular. So I reckon something’s working. It could be any of the variables though, the oats, turmeric or the yoghurt.

Yoghurt and Muesli

Home Made Youghurt

The yoghurt you see on top of the muesli is home made. If you missed the home page, there is a video there showing you how to make your own yoghurt. It is simple and costs just over a dollar per litre. The biggest cost is the milk.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 4.

Turmeric Part HarvestYou don’t need green thumbs. It’s a weed. Turmeric will grow anywhere in a sub-tropical to tropical environment. It might need some TLC in colder climates, but from what I have seen of its growing capabilities it will still give you a crop over the summer. There are many uses for turmeric, look them up on the net. But if you would like to try it for health benefits, have a go it will surprise you and repay you.

This is from one of three wheelbarrow loads harvested.


Moringa Oleifera The Answer To World Hunger?

Moringa Oleifera The Answer To World Hunger?

My moringa oleifera cutting came from Rob Bob’s Backyard Farm & Aquaponics. I happened to meet RobBob just before Christmas. If you don’t know RobBob, he’s a bit of a YouTube legend and a good bloke as well.

He was good enough to let me have a cutting from a moringa oleifera tree that he was growing in a root pouch in the backyard.

Growing Moringa Oleifera From Seed

Many years ago I purchased some Moringa seeds from an overseas organization that, from memory was trying to eliminate world hunger by growing moringas. They were determined that the moringa was capabale of achieving their aim.

I was never able to sprout any of the seeds, but I’m thinking that trying to strike a few cuttings should lead to a good result. Here’s hoping as I would like to see what comes of this little experiment.

Moringa Oleifera Cuttings

The picture to the right was taken on 19 December 2017 just after I had cut up the branch RobBob had de-limbed for me with a great little Pocket Boy pruning saw. The link will show you other uses for the saw.

I read that you should dry the cuttings for a few days before planting. That was after I had planted them. Like most of the information on the internet, you have to try it yourself before you believe it. So I decided to leave them in and see what happened. The image at the top of the post was taken on 11 January 2018 and you can see that one of the sticks has sprouted leaves.

Another two of the sticks have also sprouted. One has done it from the bottom and another one from the top. It looks like these are bursting with life and want to grow anywhere in a sub-tropical environment.

Three Moringa Oleifera Cuttings Have Struck

I just went out today 2nd Feb 18 and took these piccies. You can see two of the larger cuttings in with the watermelons have taken quite well and are growing at a rate of knots. The larger cutting of the two (middle image) has sprouted mainly from the base. The first one to sprout (left image) is going really well and is now pushing branches from the base as well as the top. The cutting among the pineapples only recently sprouted.

Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera

If you would like to learn a little bit more about moringa then I think this is the website I found about fifteen years ago when I purchased some seeds. It looks a bit more professional that it did back then.

There are some amazing claims about the health benefits of moringa. The list below is from

  • Moringa tree possesses unique nutritional qualities that hold promise to millions of impoverished communities around the world those lack in many nutritional supplements such as protein, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Moringa Tree leaves are an excellent source of protein that can be rarely found in any other herbs and green leafy vegetables. 100 g of fresh raw Moringa Tree leaves provide 9.8 g of protein or about 17.5{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-required levels. Dry, powdered Moringa oleifera indeed are a much-concentrated source of many quality amino acids.
  • Fresh Moringa Tree pods and seeds are a good source of oleic acid, a health-benefiting monounsaturated fat. Moringa tree as high-quality oilseed crop can be grown alternatively to improve nutrition levels of populations in many drought-prone regions of Africa and Asia.
  • Fresh Moringa Tree leaves and growing tips of Moringa are the richest source of vitamin A. 100 g of Moringa oleifera fresh leaves 7564 IU or 252{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-required levels. Vitamin A is one of the fat-soluble anti-oxidant offering several benefits, including mucus membrane repair, maintenance of skin integrity, vision, and immunity.
  • Fresh Moringa Tree pods and leaves are excellent sources of vitamin-C. 100 g of Moringa Tree pods contain 145 µg or 235{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-required levels of vitamin C. 100 g of greens provide 51.7 µg or 86{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-recommended intake values of this vitamin. Research studies have shown that consumption of fruits/vegetables rich in vitamin C helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals from the body.
  • The Moringa tree greens as well as pods also contain good amounts of many vital B-complex vitamins such as folates,vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin. Much of these vitamin functions as co-enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
  • Furthermore, Moringa tree leaves are one of the fine sources of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, manganese,zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Iron alleviates anemia. Calcium is required for bone strengthening. Zinc plays a vital role in hair-growth, spermatogenesis, and skin health.

Instant Trellis

Instant Trellis

Castoffs Make an Instant Trellis

Trellis DriverI have been thinking about how to build a trellis for the climbing plants I want to grow. Plants like cucumber, climbing beans, some Asian climbing plants and maybe some gourds.

I needed a fairly strong trellis and was thinking that a sheet of concrete reinforcing wire might just do the trick. They are about 6 x 3 metres with 20 x 20 cm squares.

Well, low and behold the concretors doing the driveway on the new house two doors up left some reo and steel in the block next door that is for sale. They didn’t return to get it and the owner had to organise its removal. So I grabbed a sheet before the steel merchant took it.

All the original blocks around me are the quintessential Australian quarter acre blocks or just over 1000 sqm. As they get subdivided and new houses built, the new owners usually put in a new fence. The old fencesInstant Trellis

Star Picket Driverhave water pipe as their top rail and I have managed to collect a few lengths.The next task was to use the water pipe as uprights. I purchased a star picket driver from The Shade Centre for around $40 and using a step ladder was able to get high enough to drive the three lengths of water pipe around 1.5 mtrs into the ground.

Using gal tie wire I wired the reo to the water pipe uprights and voila, instant trellis. I know the reo will get quite rusty over time, but it will last a few years, and in that time I will figure out the best location for the future trellis.

I have been collecting cardboard for quite a while and used it to cover all the grass below the trellis and covered the cardboard with about 30cm of compost.

The final touch was installing the dripper line. Now all I need to do is plant.

Wicking Bed Build

Wicking Bed Build

It is taking longer than I planned to build the wicking bed, but I got a lot closer to completion today. The completion is in sight and seeing that I want to plant by the winter equinox, 22 June, I think that it will be achieved.

A wicking bed build

A hammer stapler helps intstall the plastic liner

There were a couple of items that I was procrastinating about, getting staples for my hammer stapler and getting some old carpet for the base.

The carpet might seem unusual, but I wanted to have a base that would protect the plastic liner. I needed to source some carpet that had been pulled up from houses. After mucking around and looking on Gumtree for free carpet for a week or two, I finally hit upon the idea of going to a carpet shop and seeing if they had any carpet that had been pulled out of houses where they laid new carpet.

Sourcing carpet for the wicking bed build

I strolled into Just Carpets, Virginia, spoke with Darrin and he took me down the back to a big pile of rolled up carpet and said, “Help yourself, take it all if you want.” I loaded four rolls into the car and drove off feeling pleased with the trip.

On Friday, I wrote a list of things I wanted to complete by Sunday

  • carpet wicking bed
  • plastic lining installed
  • plane edges of uprights
  • finish sides and tops
Protect the plastic with carpet

A layer of carper was intsalled before the plastic liner

In a wicking bed build, you need a waterproof liner

Installing the plastic liner

More carpet for protection on top

The rest of the carpet was laid on top of the liner giving it protection when I worked in the bed

I was able to get all the above done.I still have the following to complete before planting:

  • finish painting
  • install the agpipe and filling spout
  • fill with soil and compost and water
  • install shade cloth
  • install wire for trellising
  • plant
Painting done on the wicking bed build

Painting done, the wicking bed is now ready to fill, then shadecloth

A couple of years ago I used a Silky pole saw to reduce the height of a macadamia in the back yard. It was close to 12 metres high (40ft). I cut the branches into small lengths and stacked it up. I now have a use for it. I will turn this wicking bed into a hugulculture wicking bed. (see this post on hugulculture)


Garden Watering System

Garden Watering System

The easiest way to do your watering is to set up a garden watering system on a timer. I know, sounds like hard work, but this is the easy way to water the garden so that it happens automatically without you doing a thing or having to go out when you come home from work and battle the mosquitos at sunset after a particularly hot day.

Garden watering systems benefit from dripper lines

Dripper Lines make garden watering systems practical

Most people, when they go to the big box hardware store look at the irrigation section and get all stressed about buying the pipe and the fittings and fitting the little spray thingies into the pipe. There is none of that. Instead we use the dripper line, where the holes are already in the pipe and the water drips out, usually at a set rate of 2 litres per minute.

Get the drip rate and do some sums

The first thing to do is to attach a hose to the tap and fill a 10 litre bucket and time how long it takes. In my case it takes 20 seconds. From that we work out the tap flow rate.

10 litres in 20 seconds equals 30 litres in a minute, multiply by 60 minutes (1 hr) and we have a flow of 1800 litres per hour from the tap.

This 1800 litres per hour means that I can work out how many metres of dripper line I can run so that the drip rate is 2 litres per hour from all dripper holes. The dripper line I use has 3 drippers per metre. So if I divide the 1800 by 6, I can run 300 metres of dripper line.

watering system calculator

Calculator for dripper lines

Still with me. To make it easier, I have devised a little spreadsheet to work it out. All you need to do is put in the numbers and it will tell you how many metres of dripper line you can run from the tap. The reason I put the tap in is that you will most likely run a hose to the garden and clip it into your dripper system. I haven’t got around to digging a trench for a pipe to the garden yet.

To down load the spreadsheet, go here and enter your email address. You will also receive an email when I have made a new post.

Putting your garden watering system together

Garden watering system layout

Diagram of the garden watering system layout

I use a 19mm black poly pipe for the header of my system. The header is where the dripper line is connected to. I have inserted a tap at a lot of the dripper lines, but so far haven’t needed to adjust the watering for various crops.

Watering systems all need a timer

Watering timers are simple, robust and easy to use

To automate the process a timer is required. They are so cheap these days and reliable that every garden should have one. The one you see pictured is simple to operate, can be programmed to water daily, twice daily or monthly. The combinations are endless and easy to work out. I runs on a couple of batteries that have been there for over 12 months. If it is raining, I just turn the water off. The timer keeps opening and closing the valve to the presest times, but no water goes through.

I put a splitter on the tap. After getting two cheap ones that leaked, I finally purchased a good brass one that hasn’t been a problem so far.

Hose Connection to garden watering system

hose connection to garden watering system

Hose connected to header pipe

A hose runs from the timer to the header pipe of the watering system. The header pipe is 19mm diameter and the dripper lines are 12mm diameter. If I get around to putting a line underground to the watering system I will make that 19mm as well. I have extended my watering system to another bed. The tap has enough water flow to water both garden beds.

garden watering system taps

By adding taps you can reduce water to areas

To connect the dripper lines to theheader pipe, cut the header pipe at the dripper line position, insert a 19mm T piece with a 12mm T outlet and push the dripper line onto the 12mm outlet. If you want to place a tap in the line add a 50mm piece of 12mm pipe with the tap attached.

Placing mulch on top of the dripper line is a benefit as it stops evaporation. It doesn’t harm the dripper lines.


Making Soy Milk

Making Soy Milk

I like growing Soy Beans. Don’t ask me why as I have no real reason to. I think it stems from my days on a sugar cane farm where we grew it as a soil conditioning crop which made the cane grow gang busters when planted after soybeans.

soy beans for soy milk

A few more weeks needed for the soy beans to dry to the right moisture content

I grow them in any new gardening bed as the first crop. This year I had a new bed that I made by solarising the weeds with black plastic for 12 months and then covering with a layer of big cardboard boxes I had been collection and then covering with 30cm of compost. I also threw in some crusher dust and lime. Soy beans love lime.

Dry the beans before storing

Final drying after harvesting

To harvest them I cut them off at ground level, leaving the root system in the ground. Hopefully the rhizobia nitrogen fixing bacteria will survive in the root nodules until another crop they like is growing. Now I have to find a use for the beans.

My answer to a use for the soy beans is soy milk. Another use is green soy beans as an entree, see this link for eating green soy beans Soy Beans and Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria

Where to get Soy beans, if you don’t grow your own

Soy beans for soy mild

Available at Asian Supermarkets

If you don’t want to grow your own soy beans, you can buy them at Asian grocery stores. They are not expensive, around $4 for 1 kilo. The soy beans that you use are white or cream in colour  and you only need a cup full to make around 1.5 litres




Traditional Taiwanese method for making soy milk

You will need a blender, a big pot, soy beans, a deep bowl, a stirring spoon and a muslin or filter bag.

Place the beans in the deep bowl, cover with water and soak the beans for 6 – 8 hours.

Soak soy beans before making soy milk

Soy beans with water covering ready for 8 hours soaking and after soaking

How to know when your beans are ready for making soy milk

Beans soaked for 8 hours are ready for making soy milk

These beans are ready for making soy milk

To test whether your beans have soaked long enough, dig into one with a finger or thumb nail. If you can split it, your beans are ready for the bender.

The beans expand to nearly double the size after soaking.

Add equal quantities of beans and water to the blender and run it for a couple of minutes.

If the blender seems to have trouble moving the paste, stop the blender and add some more water and stir it up with a spoon. Blend again and then strain into the big pot. Place the pulp back into the blender and add the same initial amount of water and reblend.

Bring the strained soy milk to the boil slowly, stirring constantly so that you don’t burn the milk. A big pot is helpful here, because like cow’s milk, it will foam when about to boil and expand to overflow a small pot.

Once it has boiled, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Again you need to stir it so that it doesn’t burn.

After 30 minutes remove the heat, add some sugar if you need it, or stevia if you have it, or try some honey. We started with 2 small cups of beans and ended with 1.8 litres of soy milk. If you have ever been to a Taiwanese breakfast shop and tasted their soy milk you will probably agree that the taste is completely different to the cardboard flavoured product you purchase in supermarkets.