Monday, March 12, 2018

Trees in my food forest - Moringa

Living on the edge of the Daintree forest I can see firsthand how forests are such an awesome self-sustaining culture.  The leaves and fruit drop on the ground and breakdown to form a wonderful thick rich humus. It makes sense to try to replicate that system in the area of our gardens where we grow food.  That is where the idea of food forests in permaculture was born.
I like trees that just give a little filtered light because the fact is that sometimes I still do need to have some sunshine. Living in the tropics, full sun is just too much for most plants.  I find that I am continually cutting branches back to let light in or planting new shoots to create more shade in another area.  Those branches that I cut back are returned to the floor of the food forest, either as green mulch or into the compost and added later.  I am going to focus in the next few posts on each of the main trees I have as the upper layer in my food forest.
A while back I planted a moringa tree in the herb spiral, which  I purchased at the local markets.  I didn't realize that it would grow quite so tall, and so quickly, and a couple of weeks ago I cut the branches right back. Already it has lots of new growth as you can see in this photo.

So far I have just been grabbing a few leaves here and there to nibble on, but this time I landed up with a bunch of leaves, so decided to dry them and make some powder.  I used the same method that I did for drying the rosella for tea, simply spread them out onto the reflective windshield car mat, although this time I didnt park the car in the sun as that can affect the nutrients that are retained during the drying process.

 I made some delicious bliss balls and used this recipe.  My food processor didn't get it that fine (plus I had a few stalks left in there!), so I didn't exactly get a powder.  I don't really drink smoothies, but have stirred some into my oatmeal after cooking and it just blends right in.  It also makes quite a nice tea.  I am looking for other ideas of how I can incorporate this into my diet.

The Organic India site has lots of information about Moringa, and it seems to provide a vast amount of beneficial vitamins, and minerals. It grows very quickly in my climate from a branch, and so I am going to propagate a few more trees.  It provides that filtered light and yet it just has a tap root that means you can grow herbs around its base, so it is fast becoming my favourite  tree in the food forest. Every branch I cut has now started shooting out new little leaves - even the ones I just lay against the side of the fence, thinking I would use them later for stakes.

If you want to know more about what climates Moringa can be grown in look at this site: Moringa

What small trees do you use in your food forest?


  1. Sorry but I cannot see your 2nd and 3rd photos. Your first photo shows a beautiful, luscious, green garden. No doubt due to your great efforts to keep it healthy and thriving. I only heard about Moringa in the last few years (though African distributors) but have never seen the plant. High end shops sell the powdered Moringa here as a health supplement and also for cooking. I haven't tried it yet but I have tried the boabab powder.

    In my very small garden I have a bush. The name escapes me and it seems to be a bit rare though I did find it once on someone's blog and now the blog doesn't exist and I no longer remember the name of it. I also have a Dogwood tree which is the official tree of our province.

  2. Hi Joyful, I must admit that here in the tropics everything is always green and lush and much of my gardening includes cutting that back. The things that are harder to grow are the everyday vegetables but I persist! I hope you can see the photos now, I did see a problem in the second photo which I corrected. Oh I love dogwood trees, I think they flower in spring dont they? I hope you post a photo when it flowers.

  3. I'd love to plant out more fruit trees here but a lot of our block here is very shallow soil and rock under that! I do have a mandarin and a young avocado. I'd dearly love a mulberry tree but must look into dwarf varieties. I managed to kill the lemon tree we had. Ahem!
    Your garden would be well and truly drenched now with all the rain up there, I imagine you'll be cutting back a lot of growth! Your first photo is showing up looking very lush but I can't see the other two photos. Meg:)

    1. Hi Meg,
      I have a bunch of fruit trees in pots in fruit salad alley, and they do really well. especially the mulberry! the rain has stopped for now, but yes everything is very damp! I think I have fixed the photos. very frustrating as they show up just fine for me.


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