You can dry the leaves and you’ll get an earthy-flavored brew (I like this excellent strainer I bought earlier this year) or simply do it the way I do in the video and boil some fresh leaves, then strain them out with a larger strainer.
Dropping ice on the floor is optional.
The more I grow Moringa oleifera, the more I like it. It’s a fertilizer, a tea, a salad green, a nutritional supplement, a water purifier, a good chop-n-drop tree and an excellent addition to any Florida garden, yard or food forest.
Making moringa tea from fresh leaves gives you a slightly zippy pot-liquor flavored brew that just tastes healthy. Add some honey for a sweet tea… or simply put it on ice like I do and enjoy the full flavor of nature’s healthiest tree.
I’ve been growing moringa trees for almost four years now. I’ve grown most of mine from seeds since those seem to be stronger than the ones I started from cuttings; however, there’s a problem.
My moringa won’t make pods.
I planted PKM1, which is supposedly the best type for quick pod production, yet I’m still not getting anything. I’ve wondered if the issue is pollination, since they do bloom, but I don’t know. They’ll flower every year, sporadically, then the blooms will fall without giving me any pods.
I’ve asked around about this problem and have seen something interesting: folks are getting pods from them even up here in North Florida, but I’m not. On further inquiry, most of the success stories I’m hearing about involve pods being produced on trees that are either growing in stressed conditions or in containers. My guess is that the restricted root development/tough surroundings are pushing the trees to produce seeds.
This makes sense. Stress induces a race to reproduce in quite a few species, including our own.
I think I need to try keeping some moringas in pots to see if this theory is correct. I’m also going to plant more seeds in the spring from alternate seed lines. I have some seeds from Thailand (thank you, ebay) and some from Jamaica (thank you, Rycamor). I also have some from my friend Cathy. Here’s a pod she brought over to share the other night:
Though moringas look like they’d be a nitrogen-fixing tree from the bean and pea family, they’re not. They’re the own thing, as you can tell from the differently shaped pods and seeds.
Anyone have any good tips on getting moringas to set seed?
Protecting moringa trees from frost damage is the #1 thing you can do to ensure an early spring harvest of nutritious young leaves.
In the northern half of Florida, moringas will often freeze to the ground, then grow back again from the roots sometime in spring. If you let this happen, you’ll be waiting on new leaves for a lot longer than necessary.
Want a shortcut that will give you much better yields? It’s easy. I’ve written on this method before, but it’s time for a better demonstration. Here’s how I do it.
Step 1: Chop ‘Em Down!
Chop your moringa trees down to 4′ trunks in late fall or early winter. I wait until the first frost is coming, then do this the day before.
It hurts to cut the trees down, but you can take away some of the pain by drying leaves to use through the winter. See?
I usually put away a couple of dry gallons of leaves… that’s a LOT of moringa. We never run out.
Step 2: Make Rings!
Got some old chicken wire or other fencing? Get snipping and bending!
It’s easy and fun. Just watch yourself on the sharp wires.
I make my rings about 16 – 20″ across, depending on the size of the tree. You can see one of the trunks above is a lot thicker than the other little moringas – that one is over two years old and was protected last winter. The others are only a year old.
Once you have your rings, move on to step three.
Step 3: Stuff Those Rings
I buy straw for this step but you could easily use leaves instead. Last year I used pine needles. All you want to do is make sure you get plenty of protection between the wires and the trunk of the trees. I stuff them tight, like so:
And that’s it! Once all danger of frost has passed, pull the rings off and rake away the straw. The moringas will shoot up like rockets from the intact trunk and you’ll be harvesting new leaves in no time… while your friends wait sadly for their moringa trees to return from the ground.
I had a great chance to visit a Thai garden this week.
“I don’t have much right now,” she told me as we stepped out back. “The lizard got a lot of my plants.”
South Florida suffers from an invasion of vegetarian iguanas, yet what they left behind was still impressive. Katuk… moringa… pineapples… papaya… kang kong… kaffir lime… three different basil varieties and a whole mess of Asian herbs and vegetables foreign to me were spread out in containers.
Kang Kong: one of the most productive leaf vegetables you can grow.
Kiddie pools housed some of the bounty, and everything from coolers to pots were stuffed to overflowing.
We stood in the rain as it was getting dark. Our hostess was my wife Rachel’s aunt. We were there for dinner (which, incidentally, was an amazing spread of Thai food… I’ve rarely eaten so well in my entire life) and had to take the garden tour.
Amazingly aromatic Thai basil.
She told me that she grew some plants as food coloring for various confections. A pea vine provided blue… another plant gave up a golden dye and so on. “I don’t buy any food coloring. All natural,” she said, waving a hand at her garden.
Beyond the pots and containers, she had a stand of pineapples, plus mangoes, jackfruit, sugar apple, bananas and other great perennials.
Pineapples packed tightly into the back corner of the yard.
If you live in a tropical place like South Florida, what are you doing with your life? You could be eating fresh all year.
This Thai garden isn’t fancy – and it’s definitely been chewed up by a now-mysteriously-missing iguana – but it keeps the house supplied with plenty of fresh greens, spices and fruit.
Gardening doesn’t have to be a big affair with cedar beds and perfect spacing. Get out back and get planting. If you need help, make friends with someone from Southeast Asia.
Unlike Americans, they know what to do with a back yard.
One of the reasons I like writing my daily posts here is because I often get some fascinating input from readers. For example, I got a cool comment a little bit back from sengie thao on my post Using Moringa As Fertilizer:
“Grow the pkm1 variety. That’s the one my mom is growing now. It bloomed last month(planted from seeds in Feb this year). They are said to bloom in 6 or so months, so you should be able to harvest some pods before the first frost comes. eBay has them for quite cheap, other site that sell them is more expensive for the same amount that the seller on eBay is offering”
Very interesting – this could be quite useful. I hit ebay, and yes indeed, there are a lot of seeds available.
Has anyone else experimented with this variety? Is it a hybrid? Is it EVIL GEN-MOD MORINGA? I dunno! Gotta do some research.
I’d love to get some pods to grow. Even down in South Florida my moringa trees are taking their sweet time producing. Blooms will appear but never pods. And that yard is loaded with bees, thanks to my friend Eddy across the street (yeah, the one with the great avocado tree).
Perhaps I need to buy some seeds and try it out, for the good of us all.
I’ve heard about using moringa for nutritional deficiencies – but what about using moringa for fertilizer? It makes sense to me, since if it contains lots of nutrition for the human body, it would also contain lots of nutrition for plant life.
Using moringa as fertilizer makes sense
I’m always on the lookout for alternative fertilizers – especially considering some of our traditional organic options have been poisoned by Big Ag (see my article on toxic manure).
Knowing that the moringa tree is a highly productive and extremely nutritious food for people, I wondered if perhaps it might also be a good amendment for plants.
“Recently a new benefit of Moringa was suggested: the leaves seem to contain a substance that stimulates plant growth and increases crop production. Several years ago, Mr. Nikolaus Foidl came across a referenceto a study by a Mr. Singh of India. It said that an extract from Moringa leaves seemed to stimulate the growth of plants.
Mr. Foidl and his colleagues tested the process with various crops and refined the protocol. They have successfully applied the formula to large-scale farming.”
It seems more experiments are in order.
I’ve been using moringa as a chop and drop fertilizer in my my gardens and my food forest and it seems to help; however, I haven’t tried moringa as a liquid fertilizer.
We do drink moringa tea when we get sick – it seems the plants like it as much as our bodies.
Moringa has been called the “Miracle Tree,” and for good reason.
It has an incredible assortment of attributes in its favor. From cleaning water to fending off malnutrition, it’s a tree of many uses. Fast-growing, easy to grow and containing complete proteins in its leaves, the Moringa is a must-have for Florida survival gardeners. If you’re stuck living off rice and MREs, you’re going to want more nutrition – and that’s where this tree shines. The leaves are absolutely loaded with nutrients, brought up from deep down by the tree’s questing roots. The tree has been named the “most nutritious on earth.” It’s also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, as well as being a really fast producer of biomass. Its pods are often called “drumsticks” and feature prominently in some regions of South Asia, however, it’s hard to get them to set pods in regions with frost.
From seed, the Moringa will easily hit 10′ during its first year of growth. In the tropics the tree apparently reaches 60′, though the wood is very weak. My 2-year-old moringa trees blew through 20′ tall this year and the growing season isn’t done yet.
Growing moringa in my garden – this is a young seedling
But tall trees aren’t really what you want. You want trees that are easy to harvest. To get that, simply cut the trunks at about 4′ and let them shoot up lots of tender new growth. The compound leaf stems are easy to break off so the tiny leaflets can be dropped into soups, sprinkled into salads or dried/frozen for future use. After learning of its incredible nutrient profile, I’ve started putting the leaves into everything from smoothies to scrambled eggs. Bonus: they taste good.
The trouble with this tree, however, is that it’s a tropical all the way. It quits growing when the weather gets cool – and freezes to the ground during a frost. That means those of us in the central to northern part of the state won’t get 60′ trees that collapse onto our roofs during thunderstorms. Fortunately, the Moringa is hard to kill and in spring will generally come back from its roots.
Growing Moringa Where it Freezes
Spring: Plant moringa seeds (or stick cuttings) in desired locations.
Summer: Watch them shoot to the moon and harvest leaves as desired.
Fall: Cut back the trees to 3-4′ and harvest lots of new growth to dry for storage.
Winter: Put a 2′ diameter ring of chicken wire around the base of the tree and fill with straw to protect against frost. Cut off all top growth and save leaves, then cover cut trunk. Wait until after all danger of frost the next year and then remove ring and straw. BOOM! The Moringa flies back into action as soon as days warm and you’re harvesting fresh leaves again.
The trees I protected from frost came back with significantly more vigor than those I simply let freeze to the ground.
I’ve read that you can dig the roots and grate them to make a horseradish substitute – but I’ve also read that the roots are somewhat toxic. If you try it, let me know if it works out or if you suddenly die. I have yet to see any pods develop here in North Florida, though one of my protected trees has flowered. The blooms dropped, sadly, but perhaps next year we’ll see some pods produced.
Name: Moringa Tree, Miracle Tree, Drumstick tree, Horseradish tree Latin Name: Moringa Oleifera Type: Tree Nitrogen Fixer: No (updated 10/31) Medicinal: Yes Cold-hardy: No Exposure: Full sun/part shade Part Used: Leaves, pods, roots Propagation: Seed, cuttings Taste: Good Method of preparation: Raw, cooked, dried, sauteed. Leaves and pods. Storability: Leaves can be dried/frozen, pods could likely be pickled Ease of growing: Easy to hard, depending on growing zone Nutrition: Unbeatable Recognizability: Low Availability: Low