Growing Moringa

Gardener’s Notebook

By Joshua Burman Thayer

Moringa Can Be a Boon to Your Garden

Photo: Sengai Podhuvan on Wikimedia Commons

Have you heard of Moringa oleifera? An amazingly fast-growing perennial, moringa is edible from root to shoot. High in iron, it offers a nutritional boost to people as well as animals, and can be a real boon to your garden or orchard as a soil builder.

In the Garden and Orchard

Unchecked, this sub-tropical shrub can grow to over 20 feet tall. However, with annual pruning, it can be managed to stay between four and eight feet tall, and those pruned branches can provide good food for humans, goats, and chickens. One choice is to “chop and drop” the pruned branches to lie around orchard trees, where they nourish the trees as they break down.

As a vertical grower, moringa takes little soil space compared to the biomass it creates. In permaculture, this is called “vertical economy.”

Another advantage moringa can bring to your garden is that when used as a green mulch growing between the rows, it can serve to cool the ground in summer, thus protecting plant roots.

In the Kitchen

Think of moringa as a salad tree. Its edible parts include immature seed pods, mature seeds, leaves, flowers, and roots.

Read about how moringa became part of the plan to feed and employ the masses in Cuba: here

Find moringa seeds: here

Want to learn more about food forests and other food production strategies? Check out Joshua’s Summer 2018 article in Edible East Bay: here

Joshua Burman Thayer is a San Francisco Bay Area ecological and permaculture landscape designer and consultant specializing in dry-land landscape design. He can be reached at 510.332.2809,