Grow Sub-tropical Moringa for Food and Fodder

Reader Contribution by Joshua Burman Thayer and Native Sun Gardens
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Photo by Flickr/Books for Life

The amazing a fast-growing soil-builder called moringa (Moringa Oleifera) is a perennial plant that is edible from root-to-shoot and can be a real boon to your garden and orchard. High in iron, it is an amazing vegetarian nutrition boost to you and your chickens.

Grow your soil. Moringa is a fast-growing sub-tropical shrub. Unchecked, it can grow to over 20 feet tall. However, with one or two pruned per year, it can be managed to 4 to 8 feet tall and its pruned branches can be eaten by humans, goats, or chickens. The pruned branches can also be “chopped and dropped.” This means that pruned branches are laid around production trees to break down and feed the desired trees.

Cool the orchard floor. In the heat of summer, the exposed ground can get very hot. By growing crops like moringa in the gaps of your orchard, you can “green mulch” the ground surface, helping keep root temperatures cooler.

Grow a tree salad. As moringa grows vertical, the amount of soil space needed for it is small compared to the biomass created. This can be called “vertical economy” and provides the advantages of growing up, rather than flat on the ground.

Edible parts of the Moringa include:

Immature seed pods
Leaves
Mature seeds
Flowers
Roots

Find out more about moringa at Perennial Solutions.

Joshua Burman Thayer is a landscape designer and permaculture consultant with Native Sun Gardens. He is the Urban Agriculture Supervisor for Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in San Francisco, Calif. Find him at Native Sun Gardens and read his other MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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