The Moringa tree is very easy to grow. Simply plant seeds or cuttings in the ground in a sunny spot.
What could be easier than walking into your yard, and gathering healthy leaves from your own grown Moringa plants to put on the table?
Moringa is a fast-growing, drought resistant tree
The moringa tree is a plant that grows mainly in semiarid, subtropical areas. While Moringa grows best in dry, sandy soil, it tolerates poor soil.
The Moringa tree can grow to about 10 meters tall, with drooping branches. It thrives in subtropical and tropical climates, giving fruit and flowers continually.
1. Find a sunny place
2. Make square holes in the ground 30 to 60 cm deep
3. Fill the hole with loose ground
4. Plant the seed 1 cm deep
5.Give the ground some water but not too much, otherwise the seed may rotten.
6. Within 1-2 weeks the Miracle springs out the ground! :-)
Moringa oleifera is believed to be native to sub-Himalayan tracts of northern India but is now found worldwide in the tropics and sub-tropics. It grows best in direct sunlight under 500 meters altitude. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers a neutral to slightly acidic (pH. 6.3-7.0), well-drained sandy or loamy soil. Minimum annual rainfall requirements are estimated at 250mm with maximum at over 3,000mm, but in waterlogged soil the roots have a tendency to rot. (In areas with heavy rainfall, trees can be planted on small hills to encourage water run-off). Presence of a long taproot makes it resistant to periods of drought. Trees can be easily grown from seed or from cuttings. Temperature ranges are 25-35 degrees Celsius (0-95 degrees Fahrenheit), but the tree will tolerate up to 48 degrees in the shade and it can survive a light frost.
Moringa seeds have no dormancy period, so they can be planted as soon as they are mature and they will retain the ability to germinate for up to one year. Older seeds woll only have spotty germination. Moringa trees will flower and fruit annually and in some regions twice annually. During its first year, a Moringa tree will grow up to five meters in height and produce flowers and fruit. Left alone, the tree can eventually reach 12 meters in height with a trunk 30cm wide; however, the tree can be annually cut back to one meter from the ground. The tree will quickly recover and produce leaves and pods within easy reach. Within three years a tree will yield 400-600 pods annually and a mature tree can produce up to 1,600 pods. Copicing to the ground is also possible, and will produce a Moringa bush is no main new growth is selected, and the others eliminated.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - IN THE NURSERY
Use poly bags with dimensions of about 18cm or 8" in height and 12cm or 4-5" in diameter. The soil mixture for the sacks should be light, i.e. 3 parts soil to 1 part sand. Plant two or three seeds in each sack, one to two centimeters deep. Keep moist but not too wet. Germination will occur within 5 to 12 days, depending on the age of the seed and pre-treatment method used. Remove extra seedlings, leaving one in each sack. Seedlings can be out-planted when they are 60-90cm high. When out-planting, cut a hole in the bottom of the sack big enough to allow the roots to emerge. Be sure to retain the soil around the roots of the seedling. To encourage rapid germination, one of three pre-seeding treatments can be employed:
1. Soak the seeds in water overnight before planting.
2. Crack the shells before planting.
3. Remove shells and plant kernels only.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - IN THE FIELD
If planting a large plot it is recommended to first plough the land. Prior to planting a seed or seedling, dig a planting pit about 50cm in depth and the same in width. This planting hole serves to loosen the soil and helps to retain moisten in the root zone, enabling the seedlings’ roots to develop rapidly. Compost or manure at the rate of 5kg per pit can be mixed with the fresh topsoil around the pit and used to fill the pit. Avoid using the soil taken out of the pit for this purpose: fresh topsoil contains beneficial microbes that can promote more effective root growth. The day before out planting, water the filled pits or wait until a good rain before out-planting seedlings. Fill in the hole before transplanting the seedling. In areas of heavy rainfall, the soil can be shaped in the form of a mound to encourage drainage. Do not water heavily for the first few days. If the seedlings fall over, tie them to stick 40cm high for support.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - DIRECT SEEDING
If water is available for irrigation (i.e., in a backyard garden), moringa trees can be seeded directly and grown anytime during the year. Prepare a planting pit first, water, and then fill in the pit with topsoil mixed with compost or manure before planting seeds. In a large field, trees can be seeded directly at the beginning of the wet season.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - GROWING MORINGA FROM CUTTINGS
Use hard wood, not green wood, for cuttings. Cuttings should be 45cm to 1.5m long and 10cm thick. Cuttings can be planted directly or planted in sacks in the nursery. When planting directly, plant the cuttings in light, sandy soil. Plant one-third of the length in the ground (i.e., if the cutting is 1.5m long, plant it 50cm deep). Do not over water; if the soil is too heavy or wet, the roots may rot. When the cuttings are planted in the nursery, the root system isslow to develop. Add phosphorus to the soil if possible to encourage root development. Cuttings planted in a nursery can be out-planted after 2 or 3 months.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - SPACING
For intensive Moringa production, plant the tree every 3 meters in rows 3 meters apart. To ensure sufficient sunlight and airflow, it is also recommendedto plant the trees in an east-west direction. When the trees are part of an alley-cropping system, there should be 10 meters between the rows. The area between trees should be kept free of weeds.
Trees are often spaced in a line one meter or less apart in order to create living fence posts. Trees are also planted to provide support for climbing crops such as pole beans, although only mature trees should be used for this purpose since the vine growth can choke off the young tree. Moringa trees can be planted in gardens; the tree’s root system does not compete with other crops for surface nutrients and the light shade provided by the tree will be beneficial to those vegetables which are less tolerant to direct sunlight. From the second year onwards, Moringa can be inter-cropped with maize, sunflower and other field crops. Sunflower is particularly recommended for helping to control weed growth. However, Moringa trees are reported to be highly competitive with eggplant (Solanum melongena) and sweet corn (Zea mays) and can reduce their yields by up to 50%.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - PINCHING THE TERMINAL TIPS
When the seedlings reach a height of 60cm in the main field, pinch (trim) the terminal growing tip 10cm from the top. This can be done using fingers since the terminal growth is tender, devoid of bark fiber and brittle, and therefore easily broken. A shears or knife blade can also be used. Secondary branches will begin appearing on the main stem below the cut about a week later. When they reach a length of 20cm, cut these back to 10cm. Use a sharp blade and make a slanting cut. Tertiary branches will appear, and these are also to be pinched in the same manner. This pinching, done four times before the flowers appear (when the tree is about three months old), will encourage the tree to become bushy and produce many pods within easy reach. Pinching helps the tree develop a strong production frame for maximizing the yield. If the pinching is not done, the tree has a tendency to shoot up vertically and grow tall, like a mast, with sparse flowers and few fruits found only at the very top.
For annual Moringa types, directly following the end of the harvest, cut the tree’s main trunk to about 90cm from ground level. About two weeks later 15 to 20 sprouts will appear below the cut. Allow only 4-5 robust branches to grow and nib the remaining sprouts while they are young, before they grow long and harden. Continue the same pinching process as done with new seedlings so as to make the tree bushy. After the second crop, the trees can be removed and new seedlings planted for maximum productivity.
For perennial Moringa types, remove only the dead and worn out branches every year. Once in four or five years, cut the tree back to one meter from ground level and allow re-growth. Complete copicing is
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - WATERING
Moringa trees do not need much watering, which make them ideally suited for the climate of places such as Southern California. In very dry conditions, water regularly for the first two months and afterwards only when the tree is obviously suffering. Moringa trees will flower and produce pods whenever there is sufficient water available.
If rainfall is continuous throughout the year, Moringa trees will have a nearly continuous yield. In arid conditions, flowering can be induced through irrigation.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - FERTILIZING
Moringa trees will generally grow well without adding very much fertilizer. Manure or compost can be mixed with the soil used to fill the planting pits. Phosphorus can be added to encourage root development and nitrogen will encourage leaf canopy growth. In some parts of India, 15cm-deep ring trenches are dug about 10cm from the trees during the rainy season and filled with green leaves, manure and ash. These trenches are then covered with soil.
This approach is said to promote higher pod yields. Research done in India has also showed that applications of 7.5kg farmyard manure and 0.37kg ammonium sulfate per tree can increase pod yields threefold.
Biodynamic composts yield the best results, with yield increases of of to 50% compared to ordinary composts.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - PESTS AND DISEASES
Moringa is resistant to most pests. In very water-logged conditions, Diplodia root rot can occur. In very wet conditions, seedlings can be planted in mounds so that excess water is drained off. Cattle, sheep, pigs and goats will eat Moringa seedlings, pods and leaves. Protect Moringa seedlings from livestock by installing a fence or by planting a living fence around the plantation. A living fence can be grown with Jatropha curcas, whose seeds also produce an oil good for soap-making. For mature trees, the lower branches can be cut off so that goats will not be able to reach the leaves and pods. Termites can be a problem, especially when cuttings are planted.
Among approaches recommended to protect seedlings from termite attack:
· Apply mulches of castor oil plant leaves, mahogany chips, tephrosia leaves or Persian lilac leaves around the base of the plants.
· Heap ashes around the base of seedlings.
· Dry and crush stems and leaves of lion's ear or Mexican poppy and spread the dust around the base of plants.
In India, various caterpillars are reported to cause defoliation unless controlled by spraying. The budworm Noordia moringae and the scale insects Diaspidotus sp. and Ceroplastodes cajani are reportedly able to cause serious damage. Also mentioned as pests in India are Aphis craccibora, the borer Diaxenopsis apomecynoides and the fruit fly Gitonia sp. Elsewhere in the world, where Moringa is an introduced tree, local pests are less numerous.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - HARVESTING
When harvesting pods for human consumption, harvest when the pods are still young (about 1cm in diameter) and snap easily. Older pods develop a tough exterior, but the white seeds and flesh remain edible until the ripening process begins.
When producing seed for planting or for oil extraction, allow the pods to dry and turn brown on the tree. In some cases, it may be necessary to prop up a branch that holds many pods to prevent it breaking off. Harvest the pods before they split open and seeds fall to the ground. Seeds can be stored in well-ventilated sacks in dry, shady places.
For making leaf sauces, harvest seedlings, growing tips or young leaves. Older leaves must be stripped from the tough and wiry stems. These older leaves are more suited to making dried leaf powder since the stems are removed in the pounding and sifting process.
Adapted from Lowell J. Fuglie and K. V. Sreeja by Dr F. Annenber
Moringa is one of the world’s most useful plants. This fast-growing tree is grown throughout the tropics for human food, livestock forage, medicine, dye, and water purification. It is known by several names in different countries, but is popularly called the “drumstick tree” for its pods that are used by drummers and the “horseradish tree” for the flavor of its roots.
Moringa is one of the world’s most nutritious crops. Ounce for ounce, the leaves of moringa have more beta-carotene than carrots, more protein than peas, more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than spinach. Native to South Asia, this tree is becoming a vital source of nutrition in this region, where most of the world’s poor people live. The multiple uses of moringa have attracted the attention of researchers, development workers, and farmers.
The following suggested cultural practices were developed at AVRDC in the Taiwan lowlands. Growers may need to modify the practices to suit local soil, weather, pest, and disease conditions.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Climate and soil requirements
Moringa tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions. It grows best between 25 to 35oC, but will tolerate up to 48oC in the shade and can survive a light frost. The drought-tolerant tree grows well in areas receiving annual rainfall amounts that range from 250 to 1500 mm. Altitudes below 600 m are best for moringa, but this adaptable tree can grow in altitudes up to 1200 m in the tropics.
Moringa prefers a well-drained sandy loam or loam soil, but tolerates clay. It will not survive under prolonged flooding and poor drainage. Moringa tolerates a soil pH of 5.0–9.0.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Preparing the field
Moringa requires thorough land preparation and a well-prepared seedbed. At AVRDC, moringa is planted on 30-cm-high raised beds to facilitate drainage. Bed widths being tested at the Center vary from 60–200 cm.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Choosing a Moringa variety
Among moringa species, Moringa oleifera and Moringa stenopetala are most commonly grown. Moringa oleifera is most widely cultivated and the focus of this guide. Varieties within Moringa oleifera differ in growing habit, leaf, flower, and pod characteristics (Fig. 3). Numerous accessions are being evaluated at AVRDC for superior production and nutrition qualities. Currently we recommend growers to use locally adapted lines. Characteristics of superior types include wide and dark green leaves, long and tender pods, bushy habit, and rapid regeneration after trimming.
Moringa Planting methods
Moringa is planted either by direct seeding, transplanting, or using hard stem cuttings. Direct seeding is preferred when plenty of seed is available and labor is limited. Transplanting allows flexibility in field planting but requires extra labor and cost in raising seedlings. Stem cuttings are used when the availability of seed is limited but labor is plentiful.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Direct seeding
Sow two or three seeds per hill at a depth of 2 cm. Two weeks after germination, thin to the strongest seedling per hill.
For leaf, pod and seed production, space plants 3–5 m apart between rows and plants. If using raised beds, form beds with 2-m-wide tops, and space plants 3–5 m apart in a single row.
For production of leaves only, space plants 50 cm within rows spaced 1 m apart. If using raised beds, form beds with 60-cm-wide tops and space plants 1 m apart in a single row. For intensive production of leaves, space plants 10–20 cm within rows 30–50 cm apart.
Closer spacing allows harvest of young edible shoots every two to three weeks.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Transplanting
Transplanting moringa consists of two steps: seed- ling production and field planting. Seedlings can be grown in divided trays, individual pots, plastic bags, or seedbeds. Use of divided trays and individual containers is preferred because there is less damage to seedlings when they are transplanted.
A 50-cell tray with cells 3–4 cm wide and deep is suitable. Fill the tray with a potting mix that has good water-holding capacity and good drainage. Use peat moss, commercial potting soil, or a pot- ting mix prepared from soil, compost or rice hulls, and vermiculite or sand. AVRDC uses a mixture of 67% peat moss and 33% coarse vermiculite. If you use non-sterile components, sterilize the mix by autoclaving or baking at 150Grow seedlings under shade or in a screenhouse with 50% shade. Sow two or three seeds per cell. One week after germination, thin to the strongest seedling. Irrigate seedlings thoroughly every morning or as needed (moist, but not wet), using a fine mist sprinkler to avoid soil splash and plant damage. Transplant seedlings one month after sowing.
Pots or bags may be used to grow larger trans- plants. Fill the containers (0.5–1.0 kg by volume) with potting mix similar to that used in seedling trays. If potting mix is not available, use 3 parts soil to 1 part sand. Sow two or three seeds per pot or bag. One week after germination, thin to the strongest seedling. These plants are transplanted in the field after they reach 50 cm high.
If seedlings are started in a raised seedbed, the soil should be partially sterilized by burning a 3–5 cm layer of rice straw or other organic matter on the bed. The burned ash adds minor amounts of P and K to the soil. Sow two or three seeds in holes spaced 10 cm apart in furrows spaced 25 cm apart. Cover seedbed with a fine-mesh nylon net to protect seedlings from pests, heavy rain, and harsh sunlight. Transplant seedlings one month after sowing or when they reach 20–30 cm high. Dig seedlings using a trowel taking care that roots are not damaged. Place the bare-root seedlings in a bucket containing water and transplant them as soon as possible.
Field planting. Spacing’s are similar to those recommended in the direct seeding method.
Moringa may also be planted 1 m apart or closer in a row to establish living fence posts. Trees can be planted in gardens to provide shade to vegetables less tolerant to direct sunlight. Moringa trees are also used to support climbing crops such as yam and pole beans. Trees are also planted in hedgerows forming wide alleys where vegetables are planted within. Choose vegetables that are adapted to alley cropping, such as shade-tolerant leafy vegetables and herbs, since moringa hedgerows are highly competitive and can reduce yields of companion plants significantly.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Using stem cuttings
Compared to trees planted from seed, trees from stem cuttings grow faster but develop a shallow root system that makes them more susceptible to moisture stress and wind damage.
Make stem cuttings using branches of a tree that is at least one year old. Use hard wood and avoid using young green stem tissue. Cuttings can be 45–150 cm long with diameters of 4–16 cm. Cuttings can be dried in the shade for three days before planting in the nursery or in the field. Cut- tings are then planted directly or planted in plastic pots or bags in the nursery or screenhouse. When planting directly, plant cuttings in light, sandy soil. Plant one- third of the length in the soil (i.e., if the cutting is 90 cm long, plant it 30 cm deep). Add a balanced fertilizer or compost to infertile soils to en- courage root development. Irrigate regularly to keep the soil moist but not wet. Cuttings planted in a nursery are ready for field planting after 2– 3 months. Follow the field planting recommendations mentioned for direct seeding and transplanting.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Controlling pests and diseases
Moringa grows well in most soils without additions of fertilizer. Once established, the extensive and deep root system of moringa is efficient in mining nutrients from the soil.
For optimum growth and yields, fertilizers are applied at planting time. Dig trenches around the base of the plant (10–20 cm from the base) and apply approximately 300 g of a commercial nitro- gen fertilizer per tree. If commercial nitrogen fertilizer is not available, use compost or well-rotted farmyard manure at the rate of 1–2 kg/tree.
Irrigate newly transplanted trees immediately after transplanting to promote early root development. In dry and arid climates, irrigate regularly for the first two months. Once established, moringa rarely need watering. The well-rooted tree tolerates drought and needs irrigation only when persistent wilting is evident.
Cultivate the soil thoroughly before planting to sup- press early weed growth. Apply straw and/or plastic mulch around the base of each young tree. Maintain a weed-free planting by regularly cultivating between beds and rows.
Moringa is resistant to most pests and diseases, but outbreaks may occur under certain conditions. For example, diplodia root rot may appear in waterlogged soils, causing severe wilting and death of plants. Mite populations can increase during dry and cool weather. These pests create yellowing of leaves, but plants usually recover during warm weather. Other insect pests include termites, aphids, leafminers, whiteflies, and caterpillars.
Chemical control of insect pests should be used only when severe infestations occur. Choose a pesticide that targets the specific pest causing the damage, and avoid pesticides that kill or inhibit the development of beneficial organisms. Choose pesticides that last only a few days.
Cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats will eat moringa seedlings, pods and leaves. Protect moringa seedlings from livestock by installing fence or by planting a hedge around the plot.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Pruning
Moringa should be trimmed to promote branching, increase yields, and facilitate harvesting. If left to grow without cutting the main trunk, the fast-growing tree will grow straight and tall producing leaves and pods only on the primary stem. To encourage the development of many branches and pods within easy reach from the ground, prune the apical growing shoot when the tree is 1.0–2.0 m high. Use a sharp cutting knife, machete, or pruning saw to make smooth cuts. New shoots will emerge from just below where the cut is made. Thereafter, cut the growing tips of the branches so that the tree will become bushier. Another pruning strategy is to cut back each branch by 30 cm when it reaches 60 cm in length. This will produce a multibranched shrub.
If the tree is being grown for pod production, remove flowers during the first year. This will channel all of the young tree’s energy into vegetative and root development (rather than energy- draining pods), leading to more vigorous growth and productive yields in the future, to making dried leaf powder, since stems can be removed during the sifting process.
For fresh vegetables, tie harvested leaves in bundles and place them under shade to maintain freshness. Moringa leaves can easily lose moisture after harvesting, therefore, harvest early in the morning and sell the same day, if possible.
The leaflets can also be dried in the sun for a few hours and then stored for consumption during the hot-wet season, a time when minerals and vitamins are most lacking in diets.
Flowers and pods are normally produced during the second year of growth. Harvest pods when they are young, tender, and green. They are eaten as green beans. Older pods are fibrous and develop a tough shell, but their pulp and immature seeds remain edible until shortly before the ripening process begins. Immature seeds can be used in recipes similar to green peas. Fresh or dried flowers are used for making teas.
Older trees that are unproductive or too high for easy harvesting can be pruned at ground level. New shoots will emerge quickly from the base.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Harvesting
Leaves can be harvested after plants grow 1.5–2.0 m, which usually takes at least one year. Harvest leaves by snapping leaf stems from branches. Harvesting young shoot tips will promote development of side branches where cuts along the main branches are made. Allow plants to develop new shoots and branches before subsequent harvests. If plants are grown at closer spacing and higher density, cut plants about 10–20 cm above ground.
Older leaves will need to be stripped from their tough and wiry stems. These leaves are more suited
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation - Collecting and storing ripe Moringa seeds
Mature pods contain ripe seeds that are used for planting the next crop or for extracting oil. When producing seed for oil extraction, allow the pods to dry and turn brown on the tree. Harvest pods be- fore they split open and fall to the ground. Store seeds in well-ventilated sacks in a cool, dry, and shaded area. Seeds remain viable for planting for two years.
bynames given to the Moringa tree
The Tree of Life
The Never Die Tree
The Magic Tree
The Tree of Paradise
The Miracle Tree
Mothers' Best Friend
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