Using plants that have multiple benefits is something we all do, regardless if we are off-gridders, preppers or survivalists enthusiasts. Moringa Oleifera is a truly amazing plant that is gaining a lot of popularity due to its multiple uses. It’s called the tree of life and for good reason! It has been labeled by many as “the ultimate survival tree” since every part of it can be used. Even more, this tree has become the engine of rural development in the zones where it is cultivated.
Moringa Oleifera is a widely cultivated tree in developing countries from Africa, South America, Asia and the Caribbean Islands. The English common names for this plant are: moringa and drumstick tree (due to its triangular seed-pods). This is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern regions of the Himalayas. It can grow up to 15 ft (4 m) in the first year and it can reach up to 52 ft (15 m).
You might not know this, but Moringa Oleifera is also cultivated in the US and it’s gaining a lot of popularity. If the California drought will continue on the same path, Moringa Oleifera will become the tree of choice for many preppers.
How to plant and grow Moringa Oleifera:
To being with, you will need to procure the seeds or the seedlings. As I’ve found out, it’s rather easy to do so and you can find both on Amazon.
Once you’ve acquired the seeds or cuttings you will need to plant them in a sunny spot. This is a tree that grows mainly in semiarid and subtropical areas. It grows best at temperature between 77-95°F (25-35°C).
Watering the trees should be done regularly in the first two months and afterwards, only when you notice that the tree is suffering and leaves change color. It is a drought tolerant tree and an annual rain fall of 10-16in (250-1500mm) will provide an ideal environment for it. It grows best in well-drained soils and it doesn’t tolerate over-watering or flooding. Harvesting can be done after 50-60 days of growth.
The Moringa Oleifera tree is an ideal home gardening solution that is also a survival plant. It can be grown as a decorative tree or as a perennial vegetable. You plant it once and you have it for life.
For those of you that live in the United States, particularly the southern and western states, you are in luck and can grow Moringa Oleifera outside. Even if you don’t have a lot of space in your garden you can grow multiple trees in just one square meter.
This amazing tree is also an ideal solution for urban preppers because it can be grown indoors. If you live in an area that has a true winter, where it freezes and snows, you should plant Moringa in pots or in a greenhouse. You should know that the tree loses its leaves when the average temperature drops below 70°F.
If you grow Moringa trees in just 4 square meters, you will have fresh leaves all year round. It is more than enough to feed a family of five.
Here is how you can do it:
- In order to recondition the soil you will need to measure an area of land of 43 ft2 (4 m2) and dig it 2 ft (0.6m) deep.
- Mix the soil with equal parts of manure and fill it back into the pit.
- Water thoroughly and allow the resulting mixture to decompose for six weeks
- Divide the area into four beds by crossing a piece of string or by using wood boards
- Sow your Moringa using seeds or seedlings
- After 60 days of growth you can harvest Moringa Oleifera. The harvesting should be done at 18in (45cm) above the ground.
A word of advice: If you have domestic animals (especially goats) make sure you protect your Moringa Oleifera trees with a fence. Otherwise, your animals will be the only ones to benefit from these amazing trees.
Bellow the growth progress of Moringa Oleifera after just 5 weeks:
Harvesting Moringa Oleifera
Since this tree provides many benefits, harvesting should be done accordingly. It all really depends on what you will use it for.
When harvesting the pods for human consumption, this operation should be done when the pods are still young, about 0.4in (1cm) in diameter and snap easily. If you let the pods mature, they will develop a tough exterior, but the white seeds and flesh remain edible until the ripening process begins.
When producing seed for planting or for oil extraction you should allow the pods to dry and turn brown on the tree. In optimal conditions, branches should be propped up to prevent them from braking off, due to their many pods. You should harvest the seeds once you notice the pods begin to split open. Store the seeds in a dry, shady place in well ventilated sacks.
If you plant to consume the leaves (which are delicious), you should harvest seedlings, growing tips or young leaves. Older leaves must be stripped from the tough and wiry stems. In general, older leaves are used for making dried leaf powder. This product is an excellent nutritional supplement that can be added to any dish.
Moringa Oleifera benefits:
This plant is rich in antioxidants such as beta carotene, quercetin, zeatin, beta sitosterol, and kaempferol and it can provide the beneficial effects produced by them. The main role of antioxidants in Moringa is protecting the cells from free radicals. It has a great nutritional value and is a powerful source of vitamins as you can see from the table below:
Related reading: Protein- the foundation of a survival diet
Moringa Oleifera for Human Consumption
Moring Oleifera is considered the ultimate survival tree because it helps the fight against starvation and malnutrition in many developing countries. If a family grows this tree on their propriety, it can literally make the difference between life and death.
The young leaves are edible and are commonly cooked and eaten like spinach or used to make soups and salads. They are a good source of provitamin A, vitamins B, and C, minerals (in particular iron), and cystine. The composition of the amino acids in the leaf protein is well balanced
The young green pods are very tasty and can be boiled and eaten like green beans. The pods are best for human consumption at the stage when they can be broken easily without leaving any visible strings of fiber. The pods are rich in free leucine. The seeds must first be boiled for a few minutes to remove the fine transparent hull and the water drained before they are eaten. Seeds should be eaten green before they change color to yellow. The hull is not desirable as food because it tastes bitter.
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.
Moringa Oleifera for Water Purification
This is undoubtedly the main characteristic of this tree which makes it unique and valuable.
The seeds of the Moringa Oleifera tree contain a cation (a positive charged ion), which acts as a coagulant in dirty waters. Natural coagulants have been used for centuries in traditional water treatment practices throughout certain areas of the developing world. Crushed Moringa seeds clarify and purify water to suit domestic use and lower the bacterial concentration in the water making it safe for drinking. The seed powder is as effective as technical, non-organic water-clarifying agents, such as aluminum sulphate (alum).
It is a simple and effective way for clearing dirty river waters since there are no toxic by-products associated with the use of Moringa seeds as a coagulant. Studies have shown that this water filtering method can also diminishes the content of harmful bacteria found in water. Depending on the quantity used, it removes 90-99% of bacteria contained in water.
In order to treat 5 gallons (20 liters) of water here is what you have to do:
- You will need 2 spoonful (2 grams) of fine Moringa powder
- Add 1 cup of water and shake for 5 minutes
- Strain through a clean cloth into a barrel or bucket of untreated water
- Stir rapidly for 2 minutes
- Stir slowly for 10 minutes
- Let it settle for 1 hour
This is an amazing method to purify water. One mature Moringa Oleifera tree can produce around 5,500 seeds per year and it can treat 1.849 gallons (7,000 liters) of water. It’s understandable why it’s called the tree of life.
Moringa Oleifera as Healing Aid
Preliminary studies in animals and humans have shown that this plant (leaves) can prevent and treat diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Further studies are conducted to establish doses, the mode of administration and side effects. Moringa Oleifera contains plant sterols that prevent the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and thus decreases the amount present in the blood. The leaves, seeds and fruits have anti-inflammatory effects that prevent obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes etc. Several studies have shown that Moringa oleifera extract protects liver cells by the action of toxic chemicals. Also, Moringa Oleifera has antibacterial and antiviral properties, particularly against hepatitis B virus (in vitro tests).
Facial creams containing 3% Moringa Oleifera leaves that were applied twice per day for three months maintained the skin in good condition throughout the winter.
Preliminary research (carried out on animals and in vitro) show that this herb may have beneficial effects against ovarian cancer, but it will take plenty of time before researchers will determine whether moringa is effective or not. On the market, there are many remedies containing moringa oleifera and the request for such products is increasing. When health care is not available during a crisis, knowing how to use this plant for self-healing will prove useful.
Moringa Oleifera for Oil Production
The oil content of de-hulled seeds (kernel) is approximately 42%. The oil is brilliant yellow and it is used as a lubricant for fine machinery such as timepieces because it has little tendency to deteriorate and become rancid and sticky. It is also useful as vegetable cooking oil. The oil is known for its capacity to absorb and retain volatile substances and is therefore valuable in the perfume industry for maintaining scents. The seed oil of Moringa oleifera contains approximately 13% saturated fatty acids and 82% unsaturated fatty acids.
Moringa Oleifera for Biogas Production
In experiments conducted by UK scientists in Ethiopia, Moringa plants (approximately 30 days old) were milled together with water. The fiber was separated by filtration through a mesh with 5 mm pores and the liquid fraction produced was then added to a biogas reactor. With an average feed of 5.7 g of volatile solids the gas production was 153 gallons (580 liters) of gas per 2lb (1 kg) of volatile solids. The average methane content of the gas was 81%. If you have a biogas generator, growing Moringa Oleifera is a great option for you and your family.
Moringa Oleifera as Animal Feed
The nutritional characteristics of the Moringa Oleifera tree are excellent so it can easily be used as a fresh forage material for cattle. The leaves are rich in protein, carotene, iron and ascorbic acid and the pods are rich in the amino acid lysine. Another important advantageous characteristic of Moringa is its high productivity of fresh material per unit area compared with other forage crops. Moringa is especially useful as forage for cattle both economically and productively given the problems facing typical cattle owners:
- Low availability of feed during the dry seasons
- Lack of capacity for pasturing animals as farmers generally own small areas.
- Nutritional imbalances caused by a lack of access to proteins, carbohydrates and minerals.
Moringa Oleifera is the ultimate survival tree and the information provided above is a clear evidence of how amazing this tree is. It is an ideal choice for every garden and if you are a prepper or if you live off the grid, you should definitely consider growing this tree on your propriety. Regardless if you grow it for commercial or personal use, the possibilities are endless.
Stay safe and God Bless!
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