Did you know you can grow your own superfoods?
We posted a few weeks ago about how we’re giving away free moringa seeds to anyone interested.
We wanted to share these because we figured it was a good way to empower you in building or strengthening your relationship to nature, which we feel will enable better stewardship through a chain reaction of interaction. As we share our journeys we have the power to inspire others to do the same.
We received a lot of interest and we wanted to share with you HOW to actually start a moringa plant once you have a seed.
So here you go!
Moringa is an incredibly nutrient-rich plant, originating from Africa. It is known as the tree of life.
Some of you live in warmer climates, and you can plant moringa right outside in the ground. Others are in more temperate climates, which will need care and creativity with planting!
Planting in big pots and bringing inside and outside, or in year-round greenhouse settings – with lights and controlled environment.
No matter how you choose to grow your moringa seeds, if you you are successful in your endeavor, you’ll come up with one of the most nutrient dense plant materials on the planet.
You can put it in your smoothies, or you can feed it to your worms or fish to create nutrient dense, incredible fertilizer! Or you can just allow it to grow its life cycle and sequester carbon from the atmosphere and build a healthy environment!
The moringa tree is packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, tons of iron, vitamin C, potassium, protein, vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus, trace minerals, and much more. Just to get an idea – by weight, moringa contains four times more protein than eggs, 75% more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than a carrot, 15 times more potassium than bananas, and 17 times more calcium than milk. 30 times the magnesium in eggs, 30 times more vitamin B3 than peanuts, 50 times more b2 than bananas, not to mention all of the essential amino acids. So it’s basically packed with nutrients and vitamins – like vitamin A, C, B, D, E, minerals like zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, silica, calcium, iron…
Moringa has many uses and benefits:
- The seeds can be crushed and used to purify tepid water.
It grows in drought environments AND is salt tolerant.
- It produces nutrient rich food in the form of leaves, beans, and flowers.
- It has a 40% oil content (that is one of the most incredible oils). The oil from the flowers is known as ben oil from the flower.
- It also has oil from the seed that is useful as a biofuel.
- As a biomass in itself to compost with, it has great potential and produces incredible compost.
- All parts of plants are edible.
- The root taste like horseradish. It also has medicinal properties.
- It is a beautiful, healthy, fast-growing plant – it can be grown as trees or it can be trained to grow as a shrub (intensive planting, even row cropping)
Moringa can be harvested in the form of leaves, air-dried in the shade, blended into a powder, and stored in jars, cardboard containers in the freezer or airtight dried environments. The young seed pods are delicious, so are the flowers.
One of the things we want you to be aware of is moringa is a subtropical/tropical plant. A lot of the people who responded to our moringa offer live in Southern California (around zone 10) so the plant will grow fine as long as it’s taken care of when it’s young. It will go dormant in the winter. All the way to zone 7 the plant can go do dormant in the winter time and then it will spring back to life in the summer.
Large trees with thick bases can handle small amounts of frost. If you have more than small amounts of frost in your winter then you should be starting the seeds indoors so the seedling can get as much strength on the roots as possible in large pots. Then you can put the plant outdoors all through the summer and the fall until your temperatures cool down, bringing the it inside to a heated environment within your house. This also exchanges oxygen and CO2 within your environment and you can harvest leaves and flowers for your salad while keeping it alive indoors through the winter.
It’s worth the extra work no matter what zone you live in. Some of you live in more northern parts of the U.S. Up there it will probably only be able to grow out of the ground in pots in a controlled environments, but can still get some outside time/sun in the summer.
[ Source: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ ]
Take into account that in many places there are various microclimates happening. Sometimes just a few miles difference from the coast or over a hill can make all the difference in the world. Where you just happen to get a little less frost than someone a few miles over, you’re able to pull things off in environments that you don’t figure you are able to. So again, just a little inspiration through observation to bring yourself a closer to your environment.
HOW TO START YOUR MORINGA SEED:
- Start the seeds indoors if in the winter, or if you live in a cold zone.
- Keep the soil warm (70-80 degrees Fahrenheit for germination). Consider using a seedling heated mat to start seeds if you’re in a cold environment.
Optimum plant growth occurs between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If keeping in a pot (because in cold environment or otherwise), start the seed in a 10-15 gallon pot with organic soil for more root space and thermal mass.
- Plant in a well-draining medium – including 5-10% sand, and at least 5% organic matter (like living organic compost).
Feel free to add composting worms and earthworms into your pot.
Mulch pots (e.g., coconut husk, dry leaves, straw, cardboard…) to retain warmth and moisture.
- If planting outdoors, start seed in a 2-gallon pot (taller pots are better – moringa has a deep center tap root).
- Wait until air temperatures have consistently reached 75 degrees F or higher (including nighttime lows in that average) before transferring into the ground outdoors.
- Keep seedlings moist, but do not overwater.
- You can give them a light liquid kelp emulsion, compost tea, worm tea and/or living compost addition once every 3 weeks.
We’re really excited to see your moringa growing journey! Please let us know how it goes in the unique area you live in 🙂