Published on December 24, 2013
Moringa Uses and Cultivation
Basic information • Scientific name- Moringa Oleifera • Moringa is an ideal plant to grow indoors or in your own backyard • Moringa doesn’t like the cold and loses it leaves in the winter • There are about 12 (13) Species of Moringa • Moringa grows in a variety of climates and substandard soils, and it is fast growing. • A fully mature Moringa tree can grow to 35 feet.
Basic Information (Continued) • pH. 6.3-7.0, well-drained sandy or loamy soil • Minimum annual 250mm with maximum at over 3,000mm. In waterlogged soil the roots tend to rot. • Temperature ranges are 25-35 degrees Celsius (77-95 degrees Fahrenheit), but the tree will tolerate up to 48 degrees. • Within three years a tree will yield 400-600 pods annually and a mature tree can produce up to 1,600 pods.
• The seeds contain edible, medicinal oil. • High protein content is found in the leaves, bark, seeds, and stems. There are unique polypeptides found in seeds, and high sugar and starch content of the entire plant. • The leaves are used for cooking, in soups, and salads, and are a good source of vitamins A, B, and C, minerals, and amino acids. • The young, green, tasty pods can be cooked and eaten like green beans. • To eat the seeds, first boil them for a few minutes, drain, and remove the hull. Eat when still green.
More uses! • The dry seeds can be ground to a powder and used for seasoning sauces. • The roots from young plants can also be dried and ground for use as a hot seasoning base with a flavor similar to that of horseradish. A tasty hot sauce from the roots can also be prepared by cooking them in vinegar. • The flowers can be eaten after being lightly blanched or raw as a tasty addition to salads. • The resin from the trunk of the tree is also useful for thickening sauces.
Industrial uses of Moringa Oil: A kernel has an oil content of about 42%. This oil is a brilliant yellow. It is used for lubrication of fine watches, because it has little tendency to deteriorate and become rancid and sticky. Moringa oil is useful as cooking oil. It can absorb and retain volatile substances, and is used in making natural perfumes for stabilizing scents. The seed oil of Moringa contains approximately 13 % saturated fatty acids and 82 % unsaturated fatty acids. It has a particularly high level of oleic acid (70 %) Other vegetable oils normally contain only about 40 % oleic acid. Water Purification: The press cake obtained as a by-product of the oil extraction process has a high level of proteins that can be used as a non-toxic, natural polypeptide for sedimenting mineral particles and organics in the purification of drinking water, or cleaning of vegetable oil, or sedimenting fibers in the juice and beer industries. Only one seed is required per liter of slightly contaminated water, or two seeds for very dirty water.
Propagation • Grow in pots first, then transplant • Direct seedling on field • Growing from cuttings (In pots or plant directly in the field.) • Spacing: For intensive Moringa production, plant every 3 meters in rows spaced 3 meters apart.
Germinating Seeds • Soak the seeds for 24 hours • Put the seeds in a plastic sandwich bag and store in nursery or cabinet. Germination times range from 3-14 days • Do not let the shoots get too long • If you are planting more than one tree, space the plants 7-10 feet apart
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. • When the new shoots reach a length of 20cm, cut these back to 10cm. • 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 a few fruit found only at the very top. • Allow only 4-5 robust branches to grow.
Watering • Moringa trees do not need much watering. In very dry conditions, water regularly for the first two months and afterwords only when the tree is obviously suffering. Moringa trees will flower and produce pods whenever there is sufficient water available.
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.
PESTS AND DISEASES Moringa is resistant to most pests. In very water-logged conditions, Diplodia root rot can occur. Cattle, sheep, pigs and goats will eat Moringa seedlings, pods and leaves. Protect Moringa seedlings from livestock by installing a fence. A living fence can be grown with Jatropha curcas, whose seeds also produce oil which is 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.
Harvesting 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. Leaves may be harvested every week once mature.
Harvesting (continued) • In some cases, it may be necessary to prop up a branch that holds many pods to prevent it breaking off • For leaf harvesting, older leaves must be stripped from the stems. These older leaves are more suited to making dried leaf powder
Drying the Leaves • Place fresh leaves in tray and keep in drying box for 2-3 days (depending on temperature and moisture)
Powder for Capsule and Tea
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