Phew with all the Mother’s Day orders now successfully despatched it’s time to get back to prepping for Hampton Court and I thought it might be interesting to look in detail at planting and growing the more exotic tubers.
We import our tubers from the Himalayas because we can get a good price buying in bulk and because they are guaranteed and named varieties. However ginger and turmeric tubers bought in supermarkets or greengrocers (where available) should germinate in exactly the same way. The trick is to plant them at the right time of year (Feb-April) and to keep them warm and wet whilst they are growing.
In 2010 we planted our ginger and turmeric in 1.5L pots and then repotted them mid season but this year we are trying 2 methods a) planting them directly into 3L pots and b) starting them off in shallow trays more densely planted and repotting these once they have germinated into 3L pots. We’ve planted approximately 100 ginger and 100 turmeric each way and will be keeping an eye on which method is most successful. In our nursery we keep the air temperature above 9C overnight but these tropical babies like it a little warmer so in addition to this overnight heating they are on heated benches and we have bagged every single pot and tray to help insulate them even further.
Alongside the bought in tubers we also have a number of turmeric tubers that we have harvested and dried when last year’s plants died back for the winter. The photos below show Julie separating and potting up these tubers and treating them in the same way as the new crop. Each tuber should typically double in size over a year so the best way to maintain a constant supply is to uproot ginger and turmeric at the end of the season when the leaves start to die back, then harvest half of the root stock for cooking and dry and store the remaining for replanting just like this in March.
Tubers should be stored like potatoes in a dark paper or hessian sack in a cool but dry room, shed or larder. When they start to ‘chit’ in March April they are ready for planting and should be planted with the roots down and the ‘eye’ bud or ‘tooth’ pointing up. They should be partly exposed as pictured to minimise the chance of rotting and kept warm and toasty day and night. We’ve used a good quality container compost with some additional slow release feed when potting at home do bear in mind they are quite hungry plants and the more you feed them the better both their foliage and root system will develop. A good container compost rather than a seed or bedding compost will get them off to a good start followed by a liquid tomato or general purpose feed once they start to shoot and at intervals throughout the growing season.
So the tubers are starting to sprout nicely now and it’s been interesting to see that the trays have developed quicker than the tubers in pots, presumably as they are closer and so kept warmer by the under bench heating. We removed the bags from the pots and trays after about 6 weeks on the ginger because they seemed to be going a bit soft and after 2 months for the turmeric. They are being watered with a liquid feed regularly and now the sun has finally started shining we hope they are going to shoot up over the coming weeks.