This is what I call really planning ahead. My goal is to grow Moringa trees for the summer for my sheep to eat, and me too. But one seed would feed me all winter, yet, I planted 14. Why? For one, my seeds are almost 3 years old and two, I have a medium flock of sheep. If you don’t know much about Moringa Oleifera, it is a learning journey worth taking. There is also the species Moringa Stenopetala, but I didn’t order or grow that one, this story is about Moringa Oleifera. I ordered my seeds from a Florida grower, but there are plenty out there to choose from.
I’ve posted some pictures of how I grow my seeds because they have been known to be persnickety. I treated them like the tropical plants they are, and kept them very damp and warm to slightly warm (in a window sill in Feb, in Virginia). As you can see, about 1/2 germinated in 9 days 12 germinated in 13 days….I’m really happy with that. They have outgrown my little hot house, so I’m going to have to pay close attention to how well I water them. I did punch holes in the bottom of each section. You may have noticed that I reused a vegetable tray from the grocery store. I don’t like having plastic and food together, but the seedlings will be out of that container in less than 5 weeks, and I’m quite sure that plastic will not break down in 5 weeks, or dumps wouldn’t be so full.
So what is so special about Moringa? The leaves are super dense in nutrition. They are full of calcium, vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium and Protein. As you read up on Moringa, you’ll see the many ways people around the world use it. The crazy part about Moringa Oleifera is that the tree can grow up to 15 feet in one year…yikes!! Not a problem in colder areas, like Virginia, since Moringa is a tropical tree, and thus doesn’t overwinter. So I have just planted 14 super nutritious trees that will be part of the compost pile by October. I did test this last year, with 3 seeds, which quickly grew into 3 young trees. I put 2 in mostly shade and 1 in the open sun. The shade trees didn’t grow very well, but the one in the sun became a very bushy 6 foot “tree”, after I topped it, and topped it and topped it!! That made harvesting the leaves super easy. This year I plan on putting the young plants in the field with the sheep (fenced off, of course), where I’ll put our LARGEST Dripping Springs Olla at the base. Filling it with water once a week, I think, will be enough…will keep you posted on that.
As the plants grows, and the topping occurs, I pick the yellow leaves off the the topped branches, and then strip the good leaves off into a container. These I put on a cookie sheet, or clean screen or something and let them dry, out of the direct sun. On a table in my house is usually good. Caution: Wind created by Mother Earth or a ceiling fan will send them flying as they dry!! In a few days to a week, the leaves are dry. Make sure they are good and dry. Then store them in a large jar. When I’m making a cup of tea, I grab a big pinch and drop it right into my tea pot, or tea strainer, steeping a good 5 minutes. You can put the leaves into soups, salads and anything else you want, but they do taste like leaves, so I’d suggest paring them with something..even with peppermint or lemon balm in a tea is nice.
So, I’m planning ahead to get a great supply of Moringa for 2017. Also, I’m thinking about feeding my sheep, which always includes a pregnant or nursing ewe. If you’re up for a good experiment this year, order some Moringa Oliefera seeds, nominal cost, and let us know how your growing goes. Tell us the details and post pictures on our Facebook Page. We love pictures here at Dripping Springs Ollas!!