A tamarind tree can grow up to 100 feet. It can live up to 200 years. The tamarind tree produces pod-like fruits that have seeds inside. Its leaves are evergreen and resemble those of acacia. Tamarind trees can grow up to 25 meters high, and attain a circumference of 7 meters. They have flowers that are grouped in fluorescence, and they have yellow petals.
The pulp of the fruit can be eaten raw or can be used to make sauces, chutney, and drinks.
Tamarind seeds remain viable for several months when kept dry. A mature tamarind tree can bear up to 160 kilograms of fruits every year.
Tamarinds come in different varieties which include:
- Sweet tamarind
- Australian tamarind
- Spanish tamarind
- Manila tamarind
- Velvet tamarind
Here is a Step by Step Guide on How to Grow Tamarind from Seed
1. Germinating the Seed
- Soak your seeds in water overnight. Soaking them will speed up germination.
- Sow the seeds in a seed starting potting mix.
They will germinate within a week or two.
- Choose a proper growing site for the tree. It requires full sun to grow. The tree can grow in various soil types, as long as they are well-drained.
However, the plants will do better in deep loamy soils.
- Transplant your seedlings and plant them in holes on the ground.
- Water the seedling every day to keep it moist.
Reduce the frequency of watering when the plant grows a few inches above the ground after the seedling is fully established, water it only once a week.
Do not water the plant during winter.
- Apply a slow-release fertilizer on the onset of spring for the first five growing seasons.
Follow the fertilizer usage instructions and water your plant adequately.
You can also add manure or compost to your plant from time to time.
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2. Mulching the Plant
At the beginning of spring seasons, spread a layer of mulch, around 5 inches around your tamarind tree. The mulch protects the roots, prevents the growth of weed, and keeps the soil moist.
3. Pruning Your Plant
It is necessary to prune your tamarind trees to control its growth.
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For gardeners practicing commercial farming, tamarind trees may be grown together with short-season cash crops. Inter-cropping ensures that the farmer will still get some income, as they wait for the trees to bear fruits. Inter-cropping should stop when the trees are fully grown, and their branches start getting into contact with each other.
During the early years, watering should be frequent. In late years, irrigation is not needed frequently. However, the plants will require adequate water to develop flowers and produce fruits.
6. Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, tamarind is not largely affected by pests and diseases. However, pests like mealy bugs, caterpillars, and bag-worms may invade the plants. To control them, you can spray the trees with approved pesticides, and follow the usage instructions. Diseases that might affect your plants include root rot, leaf spot, and sooty mold.
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7. Harvesting Tamarind
Tamarinds can be harvested when half-ripe or fully ripe.
To know your fruits have reached the half-ripe stage, scratch them using your fingernails on the side not exposed to the sun. Remove the brownish material on their surface. Mature fruits will have brown shells.
To know the fruits have reached the fully ripe stage, tap them with your finger. They should produce a hollow and loose sound.
After maturity, tamarinds fruits can be left for six months on the tree. Leaving them on the tree helps reduce their moisture content. When harvesting the fruits, they should be cinnamon-brown in color. The pulp is stripped from the shell and pressed into seeds and huge chunks of cake. They have a long shelf life.
Forms of Tamarind
Pure tamarind comes in 3 forms:
1. Raw Pods
These have been directly picked from the tree. They are opened to remove the pulp.
2. Pressed Block
To make pressed blocks of tamarind, its shells and seeds are removed to reach the pulp. The pulp is then compressed to a block.
Boiled tamarind pulp is known as concentrate. Preservatives can be added too to lengthen the shelf life of the concentrate.
Uses of Tamarind Fruits
1. Used in Cooking
Tamarind pulp is widely used in Mexico, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the middle east.it is used in sauces, desserts, drinks, marinades, and chutney.
Tamarind leaves are used as vegetables
2. Medicinal Uses
In traditional medicine, tamarind was used to treat constipation, fever, wounds, and diarrhea.
Tamarind has polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Tamarind lumber can be used to make various furniture and other wooden objects like chopping boards, mortars, and pestles. Tamarind wood is termite resistant and is very strong.
In the early days, people owning furniture made from tamarind were seen to be very wealthy.
4. Ornamental Uses
Tamarind pulp is also used as a metal polish.it has tartaric acid which removes tarnish from bronze and copper
The leaves are used to make dye.
In temperate areas, tamarind is also used as indoor bonsai.
Health Benefits of Tamarind
Tamarinds have several health benefits. These include:
1. Protecting the Heart
Tamarind contains potassium, which helps in reducing blood pressure. It acts as a vasodilator, which reduces stress on the cardiovascular system.
2. Improving Digestion
The dietary fiber content of tamarinds makes it a natural laxative that promotes smooth digestion.
3. Exfoliating and Lightening the Skin
The tamarind fruit pulp is used as a skin scrub. The pulp contains hydroxyl acids, which makes the skin smooth and lighter.
4. Boosts Immunity
Vitamin c and antioxidants found in tamarind fruit help boost the body’s immunity. Its antimicrobial and antiseptic effects prevent parasites from getting into the body.
How is Tamarind Eaten?
- You can eat it raw as a fruit.
- You can add it to soups as a spice.
- You can put tamarind pulp in your sauce to make it tart
- Tamarind fruits can also be manufactured to make pastes, ice cream, soft drinks, and sweets.
- When fully ripe, you can take it in the form of dessert.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. tamarind has a lot of nutrients, and taking it every day can improve your body health over time.
To eat the fruit, you need to crack and remove the brown shell. You will find reddish brown pulp inside, which has twig-like veins. Remove the veins, and your tamarind is ready to eat.
When grown from seeds, tamarind trees will produce fruits 7-8 years after planting when provided with the optimum growing conditions.
Keep whole pods in a cool, dry place at room temperature. If opened, wrap the pods tightly and place them in the refrigerator. They can last up to 3 months
Experts advise pregnant mothers to eat the fruit as it has many nutritional benefits to both the mother and the unborn baby. However, they should consume it in moderate amounts.
Tamarind is a tropical tree, which tolerates mild winters. In cold areas, it is advisable to grow them in pots indoors. You can make a tamarind bonsai too.
Tamarind trees are easy to grow. Although they take many years to grow, the fruits have so many benefits and are worth a gardener’s patience.