Friday, July 6, 2012

How Moringa Trees Become A Passion and Part of My Heart and Soul

I had two readers ask me how I came to find Moringa. I certainly am not from that culture. I am an herbalist and growing things is part of who I am.  Moringa trees  have changed my life, my life path, and my heart. This is how a little Moringa tree can take you in a far different direction than you ever expected.

My biggest baby trees....

When we started growing Moringa trees we lived in Spring Valley, California. We had a beautiful enclosed porch, lots of room, but horrible water rates. There was a horrible rental rate to go with it. We had moved there because of his father who had suffered a heart attack and needed care.  He is a retired commander. The kind of man whose difficult even though I love him. He's the," What part of No don't you understand?" when you try to change his thinking. That is why we moved to this house.

Having a place with room, I added chickens and wanted to grow things. My husband built his first chicken coop here, with my help.  He was not so sure about our first chickens. He was just beginning to realize the implications of loving a country gal. I wanted to get my hands deep into the soil...see something grow in beauty. My husband is a condo guy who turned into a country guy.  His soul got changed to country over several years and four chicken coops later.  He loved a woman who loved earth worms, growing things, and raising chickens. Little did he know when he met me, how his life would change too. We impact those around us in so many ways. We can impact our family, friends, and environment either in a positive way or a destructive way. We need to remember that as we go about our life.

I have to blame my Moringa Tree passion  on my youngest daughter, Elizabeth,  who now lives in Florida.  She started a group to help schools and families plant gardens to help with the problem of inadequate nutrition. Yes, there are thousands of kids in Florida, whose families are so poor that the kids don't eat three meals a day.  These families come from the whole range of economic problems especially with these harsh times now.  She was introduced to Moringa by some friends who grow it there.  She fell in love with the concept of its exceptional nutrition. We both grow things so we talk a lot about our different projects. She told me about Moringa and I was drawn to it like a magnet.  She sent me my first seeds to grow.  I planted them and put them by our sunny kitchen window.  I was amazed at how they grew....just like little bean stalks in the fairy tale.  I had planted 30 seeds and they all came up quickly.

Well now, I had 50 baby trees that needed bigger pots so we transplanted them and they continued to grow like weeds.  Soon we had trees everywhere so we ordered two small inexpensive green houses and put them up.  I realized I had too many trees so I decided to sell them.  We bought a nursery license and started our business.  I was not sure where I was going with the whole thing but I loved the trees and wanted everyone to know about them.

Well that first year, we realized that the water bill would destroy us. There was also water restrictions and water police to monitor your growing. I realized we needed a place out of the city with a well.  So we began looking for a place. His father has gotten well quickly, and did not want to live with us at that point.  This is how it started.   We moved to the next house in part to find an area where we could grow more trees and expand.

We were doing well with lots of orders for trees and seeds. There is a large population of people from Asia and the Philipines in San Diego. Moringa is part of their culture. Once they knew we were growing the trees, the word spread quickly. I love these people because they buy the tree as a friend.  They grew up using the leaves and when they see the tree, they get a huge smile on their face. The kind of smile, after seeing an old friend after a very long time.  Every time we sold trees, we would learn more about Moringa. They greeted us with pleasure, because we understood how valuable the tree was to them. They would give us a hug and leave with two or three trees. You felt so good seeing that smile.

The house in Alpine, where we moved to next, turned out to be a bad move. The man who owned it turned out to be a crook....but the land was beautiful with its own private lake. It rained there constantly even when the rest of San Diego did not get rain. The trees loved it there.  We had a huge porch that we enclosed to keep them in for the winter. They grew beautifully there.

Getting pushed out of our lease by the owner, to lease it out to a huge nursery was how we ended up in Nevada. We could not find another property in the little time we had, where we could grow the trees with a well.  We put the big trees in our truck, and hauled them all the way to Mina, Nevada.  Why Mina? Some friends had property there. We were out of time and options. That is where we lived for a year.   We loved them enough to try and move them with us.  They did not survive there....which is still a huge loss for me.  The trees were 5 feet tall with trunks two inches thick.  We could not keep them in the house there.....we were living in a small trailer. Winter went down to 0 for a few days and the shed was not warm enough to keep them alive.  All my efforts to save them, did not work.

We do have a huge house now with lots of windows.  The house in part was picked for its ability to house Moringa trees.  I don't think my children or people helping us move, understood this at all. They probably thought I was crazy, as we hauled in the 33 gal trash cans into the house.  Moringa Trees become a passion.

Moringa Trees have a healing vibration about them. They have this beauty about them, that goes into the soul.  I have twenty trees in various stages of growth...from 8 inches to 2 1/2 feet.  They will all have to stay in the house or in a green house later on, but they are managing to grow here despite being in the wrong climate in many ways.  This house is at least big enough to hold quite a few trees this winter.  Loving the trees is going to the trouble to figure out where you will put them is experimenting with them to see how and what to do to get them growing.  You just get devoted to the tree.  I have great passion for these trees and the place they hold in our future.  You can survive from these trees.....they are the ultimate survival trees for the future. They are 'SPECIAL'.........

Well folks, that is how I got into Moringa Trees.   As I sit in my office, writing this article, looking at a whole table of little trees under grow lights, my soul smiles.

All for now, Kate Freer, The Herbladyisin

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Moringa Trees Growing in Palm Springs, CA

Just talked to a wonderful Filipino lady whose family lives in Palm Springs. Palm Springs is in the desert. A lot of people go to  that area during the mild winters. Many people have vacation homes there. In the summer when it gets really hot, people take their vacations if possible to cooler areas of the country. I was interested to learn that she and many of their neighbors stay the whole year around. You have to tolerate heat well to do that. I lived in El Centro, CA for almost 15 years where 115 is normal for this time of year. I can't say I enjoyed the summers being very fair skinned. I did get more used to it after a few years.

I was so very happy to hear that the families there are growing Moringa trees in Palm Springs. I invited her and her friends to give us some input into how they use the leaves, how they grow them there, and what benefits they feel the Moringa leaves and fruits add to their health.  They use the Moringa leaves and fruits on a daily basis....they grew up with the tree. It is as familiar to them as carrots are to us.

Moringa Pods are called Fruits and eaten as well as the leaves 

I love talking to people who grew up with the tree. To them it is special to their culture and the way they eat, and I don't have to educate them on the value of the leaves. They could give us a lecture on the subject.

If you have ever been to an Asian market, they have lots of greens and kinds of fish you never see in Safeway or standard markets.  They know how to really cook these different vegetables as well.  Their diet is much healthier than your standard family who eats junk food, high calorie food, and very little raw veggies. They could really teach the rest of us on healthy eating.

I am asking for people who grew up with Moringa trees, what ever your culture and country,  to give this blog your experiences.  Give us some of that special knowledge about Moringa leaves.  I expect to hear from some of you on this special knowledge. If you are raising Moringa trees in other states, leave us your special tips for raising the trees in your area. We need your specialized knowledge as well.

Palm Springs is hot like Nevada but their winters are very the 50's. They are also lower in elevation. According to growers, the fact our area is at 4300 feet does not help in growing Moringa trees here. They usually grow from sea level to 1500 feet.  So altitude is one of the factors in growing the trees.  Mild winters is an important one for their survival.

Thank in advance for helping educate people about the beautiful and healthy Moringa leaves and fruits!

Signing off for Tonight,

Kate Freer

Huckleberry Blues-I Hate Horn Worms

Tomato Hornworm and Tobacco Hornworm

Well sometimes raising plants is like a war in Nevada.  I have two Huckleberry vines that survived quail, wind, and heat. I even have about 50 berries on the vine.  So I brought them inside (they are in a large pot) to keep the birds from eating the berries, before they even got ripe. 

I put them in our back room in the sun and thought, I have fixed those birds. The berries can ripen indoors in the sun.  Well yesterday, we went off for some 4TH of July fun.  We were busy getting ready, so did not look in on those plants. We got home at 11PM and went to bed. 

I got up this morning to check on them, and there were 20 huge green Horn Worms on the plant. They had  eaten half the plant leaves over that period of time. I had brought them in the house, not knowing they were already there on the plants already.  I picked them off the plant, and disposed of them in a very unfriendly way.  The plant will survive but is certainly not happy with half of its leaves eaten away. I had no idea that I would find them on the Huckleberry vines and not on the tomato bushes outdoors.   So the lesson learned  is that horn worms eat more than tomato vines.  If you notice your leaves missing, think Hornworms, as well as other creatures. I must apologize to the Quail tomorrow.  

You would think out in the middle of Nevada with no one next door growing much of anything, that those pesky moths would not  find their way to my plants...but nope...they found them. 

You may now ask where do those huge green worms come from?  This is their Latin names:

Tomato Hornworm and Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata L. and Manduca sexta L., respectively).

These worms are laid as eggs by either the Five-Spotted Hawk Moth  (Tomato Hornworm)  or the Sphinx Moth( Tobacco Hornworm). 

These moths lay their eggs on the undersides of the leaves.   The Five-Spotted Hawk Moth is 4 to 5 inches long, and is capable of flying 30 miles per hour and hovering over flowers like a hummingbird.  

The Tobacco Hornworm has 7 diagonal white stripes and a red horn and is found more in the Southern United States.

The Tomato Worm has V shaped marks on each side and its horm in straighter and either blue or black and prefers the Northern US.   

Some Natural solutions are:

A spray made of red cayenne pepper.

A spray made of water, vegetable oil, and liquid ivory soap sprayed on your plants.

Readers let me know what you have found that kills these Hornworms other than chemicals. Also let the readers know what plant you found them on. It is apparent that they eat more than tomato vines. 

Bye for today,
Kate Freer, The Herbladyisin

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wild Horses- Gift of Living In Nevada

Local Stagecoach wild horses....really beautiful horses with two colts
These pictures of our local Stagecoach herd of wild horses was taken right from our front yard.  They stayed long enough on their way back to the river, for me to take some great pictures. These are one of the focal points of this area...the beautiful herds of horses. I don't know how they live, there doesn't seem much to eat but they have adapted to the wind, heat, and sand.

There are negatives living here, such as the fierce winds,  but there is beauty as well.  We have quail and Chuckers all over our yard. We have doves and hawks in the neighborhood. Our neighbors are really wonderful.  These horses are part of the beauty of this land. There are two colts with this herd, one pinto and one brown colt. One of the brown horses is the stallion.

You are not allowed to feed or water the horses. There is huge fine and jail time for interfering with the herds. These horses are not tame and can be dangerous if you try to approach them.  I wanted to share this with you on this beautiful but very hot 4th of July weekend.

Two colts in front brown and one pinto

I hope all of you have a great family-friends-happy  4th of July
Kate Freer