Moringa…A Must For Every Yard
Although Moringa seems to be getting pretty popular these days, I’m finding that there are still a lot of people that don’t know much about it. It’s definitely on my list of top ten plants to grow in Southwest Florida! It loves the sun and can tolerate both the dry winter conditions and the summer rains. For those who are not big on watering, Moringa is very drought tolerant. If it’s really dry, it will just go dormant till the rains come again. If you keep it watered it will produce bright green leaves all season. It can grow 9-15 feet in one year when it is happy but believe me, when you find out all the things it’s good for you will keep it manageable by harvesting regularly!
Moringa olifera is the most widely cultivated species of this genus and is native to the foothills of the Himalayas in Northwest India. Other species are grown widely in Africa and Asia but olifera is the most commonly found species in Florida. It can be propagated by seed or cuttings. The cuttings are most successful when using a branch 2” in diameter by 3’ long and planted during the rainy season.
My first real introduction to Moringa or “Miracle Tree” was at Open Farm Day at ECHO in Fort Myers. The speaker at the talk I went to spent a lot of time in a village in Africa and shared a story about a woman who was blind and walked to the local clinic holding the hand of her young grandson. They gave her a month’s supply of dried powdered Moringa leaf and a month later she came back to the clinic by herself her vision fully restored! The woman had been so depleted in Vitamin A she could not see. That was the lecture that got me hooked! From there on, I wanted to learn more about this amazing plant.
If you eat Moringa daily, you can throw out all those bottles of expensive vitamins! Moringa is widely used for malnutrition in tropical and subtropical places around the world. It’s a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and protein and has a lot of medicinal properties too! Multiple parts of Moringa are edible: leaves, flowers, young tender seed pods, immature seeds, mature seeds, and roots. I use the raw leaves in smaller amounts primarily in salads. I dry my leaves in a dehydrator at 110 degrees until just crisp. Don’t over dry as you will lose nutritional value fast. Store in a cool dark place until you are ready to use. Dried leaves can be used in a tea or sprinkled on any kind of food especially when there are deficiencies or malnutrition involved. I grind my dried leaves in a blender, powder it, put it in a spice shaker, and sprinkle it on whatever I happen to be eating. One to two teaspoons is a therapeutic dose but start out slowly as it is very potent. It has a mild peppery flavor that I really enjoy. Ounce for ounce fresh Moringa leaves have: 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 3 times more iron than spinach, 3 times more potassium than bananas, 4 times more vitamin A than carrots, and 4 times more calcium than milk. It contains protein and essential amino acids that help in growth and repair and maintenance of body tissues. Wow!
The flowers can be used in tea or sprinkled on salads. The young tender pods can be eaten like asparagus. When the pods mature and seeds begin to form, the immature seeds can be eaten like garden peas. The roots can be ground and used like horseradish. Oil can be extracted from the mature seeds, used for cooking, skin applications, and to make an antibacterial ointment. The seeds placed in contaminated water can also kill 90% of the bacteria in it. If you’re looking for recipes, I found a great book at ECHO called “The Malunggay Book” which is what they call Moringa in the Philippines. Moringa leaves can replace other greens in most any recipe.
If that’s not enough, Moringa also has wonderful medicinal properties. It can help balance cholesterol levels in the body, balance sugar levels and help fight diabetes, boost immunity, stimulate metabolism, aid digestion, and promote an overall feeling of well-being as the nutrition levels are boosted.
If you haven’t been to ECHO it’s a must. Check them out at www.echonet.org. Their mission is to reduce hunger worldwide and Moringa has become one of the most respected and requested seed and plant species they have. When we have our monthly yard tour you can check out our Moringa trees. Locally you can purchase Moringa seedlings and products at Englewood Homegrown Market.
Greg and Linda Nelson are landscape designers who have transformed their Englewood yard using Permaculture techniques. They offer landscape consultations, design services, and free monthly tours through their business: Love Your Yard. Contact them at email@example.com, 207-449-9012 or visit their website at https://weloveyouryard.wixsite.com/swfl.