Moringa Farms provides valuable information on how to grow for home use and for community operations.
Learning to Grow
Moringa Farms, Inc is committed to teaching what we have learned about Moringa over the years. In the following sections we describe how to bet grow it for personal and community use.
There are many reasons to grow Moringa, even if just a single tree. Gram for gram, Moringa can have three times the potassium you would find in a banana, four times the vitamin A found in a carrot, and seven times the vitamin C found in an orange. Moringa is also rich in minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, phytochemicals, vegetable proteins, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and carbohydrates.
Moringa is a resilient tree. It can survive in a variety of climates and substandard soils. It is as fast growing as it is hearty. Normal growth ranges from 3-5 meters per year if left uncropped. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses on the planet when properly nourished. The seed stock from Moringa Farms Inc. has varieties known to grow 7 meters in one year if left unchecked. A fully mature Moringa tree can grow to 35 feet.
Moringa is an ideal plant to start indoors or, depending on where you live, or in your own backyard. Once mature, fresh Moringa, leaves from your tree make a delicious addition to your salad. The leaves are also great for making tea, as well as an ingredient in a variety of chicken, meat and vegetable dishes. For recipes using Moringa, see our blog and cookbook.
Where to Plant
Choosing a suitable environment is essential for Moringa to grow well.
Direct exposure to sunlight, warmth and water with loamy soil is crucial for this tree.
For those who live in the United States, particularly the southern and western states, you are in luck and can grow Moringa outdoors. The Philippines cultivates most of its Moringa during the summer, though, it can be grown year-round, in any tropical, sub-tropical, temperate or equatorial climate.
Within the United States, we believe that Moringa grows well in Hardiness Zones 9 and 10 outdoors. With the right conditions, it can grow in Zone 8 as well.
What Zone Do You Live In?
Moringa does not like the cold and loses it leaves in colder climates, when the average temperature drops below 70 degrees.
For those who have a true winter, where it freezes and snows, we recommend that you plant Moringa in pots, keeping them outside in the spring and summer and bring them inside when it gets cold. With the exception of tropical climates, Moringa goes dormant in winter. If it gets too cold outside, the tree will die unless kept warm inside. When Moringa goes dormant the leaves fall off and branches shrivel. A greenhouse is ideal in most areas. The plant will die if it freezes completely, but it can withstand a mild frost.
Community Moringa plantations usually crop the trees so they don’t exceed 3-4 meters. Such a height allows the harvesters reasonable access and the cropping encourages horizontal growth enabling greater leaf production.
Brief Guide to Growing
From seeds to trees, here is a germinating guide for Moringa.
Moringa seeds are about the size of a large pea and have wings. The seeds don’t need sunlight in order to germinate. Here are some suggestions on successful germination that has worked well for us:
1. Soak the seeds for 24 hours in water; the seeds will use the amount of water it needs. Remove the seeds pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Put the seeds in a plastic sandwich bag and store in a warm, dark place like a drawer or cabinet. Germination times range from 3-14 days. Do not add extra water to the bag.
3. Check them every two days. Once the seeds have broken loose from the winged shell, you will notice two shoots protruding from the seed.
4. Do not let the shoots get too long as they may get fragile and break when handled. One of the shoots will have some ruffled growth at the extremity; this is the shoot that contains the first leaves (cotyledons) and should be the shoot exposed to the sun. Plant the seeds about ¾ inch beneath the soil surface (or in a peat moss starter) with the ruffled extremity to the sun. Sandy loamy soils work best. Use a pot that is at least 18 inches deep if this is the final home for the tree. Moringa loves the sun so make sure they get plenty of direct sun. Although the tree is drought tolerant, they may be watered daily, just don’t allow the roots to get soaked for extended periods of time. If you live in a particularly hot zone, don’t expose the baby plants to all day sun. Keep an eye on them, they will tell you if they are getting distressed from too much sun, water or lack of food.
5. It is a good idea to use pots to get the trees started since you have more control over the care of the tree. Critters will eat the Moringa starters if given the opportunity. We recommend that you let the potted plants grow at least eight weeks or longer before transplanting into the ground. When transplanting, try not to disturb the root system. Like many plants the roots are very vulnerable until they are established in the ground.
6. If using a plastic pot before transplanting to the ground, use a long thin blade to loosen the soil from the inside edges of the pot. Turn the band or pot upside down to allow the entire plant and soil to slide out of the container. This prevents disturbing the roots. If you are planting more than one tree, space the plants 7-10 feet apart for optimum access to the mature tree. The tree will branch out 3-4 feet from the trunk so this spacing will allow you to walk between trees and let the sunlight to do its job. Of course, if you want a windbreak, just plant them all at one-foot intervals, as they do in Africa and India. Moringa is like any plant that appreciates plant food and fertilizers and an ample supply of water.
Comprehensive Guide to Growing
We provide our comprehensive guide to producing Moringa