Moringa is a fast growing tree with many uses. The leaves are extremely nutritious and are being used around the world to fight malnutrition. The seeds contain a mild tasting oil that is useful for burning in lamps and for cooking. The seed pods are often cooked and eaten as a nutritious vegetable before the seeds are fully ripe. The seeds can also be harvested just before they are ripe and roasted like a nut.
Moringa Oleifera is the most popular species of tree in the Moringa family and it originated in southwest asia. It is most commonly grown in India, Thailand, The Phillipines etc. Recently, cultivation has spread around the globe in tropical areas where the climate and the water availability is agreeable with the plant’s needs. Moringa can also be grown as an annual vegetable in places where there is warm weather and bright sunshine for at least 90 days out of the year, although the plant may not be able to produce seedpods of sufficient quality in non-tropical areas.
The nutritional content of moringa leaves is highly variable depending on the specific strain of moringa that is grown and the quality of the soil that is used. Moringa trees tend to deplete soils of nutrients rather rapidly because the tree grows so quickly and the tree puts so much nutrition into the leaves. For this reason it is vital that the soil is cared for with appropriate soil amendments containing micro-nutrients as well as sufficient NPK in forms that are safe for the rhizosphere.
Moringa can easily be grown from seed although the seedlings do not tolerate transplanting well before the third set of leaves has emerged and the roots have had an opportunity to harden. Young roots are extremely brittle. The plant easily propagates from cuttings in humid climates. Moringa trees can be chopped back heavily every 30 days for leaf harvesting without significantly effecting the plant. In climates where the winter is warm, the tree will slow it’s growth until spring returns, but in areas where the winters are colder, the plant may lose it’s leaves or die back to the soil, regrowing in warmer weather. In areas where the soil gets cold in the winter, the tree will die completely.
Cuttings can be stored in the refrigerator over the winter with minimal treatment to protect the stems from rot or mold. Cuttings will grow without any chemical treatment and the young growth buds have even been used to produce a serum that may be able to increase the growth of other plants when applied as a foliar spray.