One of my favorite additions to the rooftop garden this year has been turmeric.
Here in Sri-Lanka, and most of the region, turmeric (locally kaha) is used to add a warm flavor and rich yellow color to curries. It is also very good for dying fabrics and can create shades from sunshine yellow to burnt orange. Other uses include skin care and medicinal applications in ayurveda.
The edible part of the plant is a rhizome related to ginger and just as easy to propagate season after season. Turmeric requires heavy annual rainfall to produce well, but as a perennial I have found it very useful in the garden. Planted in a tire at the base of our passion fruit vine, the dense leaves of the plant shade the passion fruit roots and seem to make a great fertilizer when chopped and mulched around the tire. Our passion fruit is doing better than ever after a year of struggling to get established.
An additional bonus is the beautiful flower I found only because I saw a butterfly disappear into the foliage. After a quick chop-and-drop mulching session I sat back in my patio chair and just admired this beauty.