Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Growing Moringa Trees Without a Greenhouse in Southern California

The second tallest tree in this picture has three tiny blooms. I was amazed this week. All these were started with the same seed, the same soil, the same growing conditions.  Seeds started in Feb in the house by a sunny window with a heat mat but no grow lights.

Can you grow a Moringa tree in your geographic area?

How do they grow without a greenhouse?

Moringa trees grow on their own time like wine.  

 I am not selling Moringa trees at present.  I am not selling them because of problems this year with their stubborn refusal to grow.  Most of the Moringa trees sold are grown in greenhouses with controlled humidity and temperature.  I decided not to grown mine in the greenhouse but grow them under the conditions that most people experience in their yards: temperatures, humidity and soil types that vary from day to day.  I hear stories all the time about trees bought straight from the greenhouse that die soon after purchase. My trees were in our simple, unheated greenhouse for a month. I did that to see if it would make a difference in the experiment. Read this blog to see the results of various changes on the trees.

The San Diego, California Story: 

There are many micro climates in the San Diego area: mountain areas that get snow, coastal areas, inland areas and everything in between.  


Spring Valley Area of San Diego, CA:

 Our house is located in Spring Valley, inland from the city of San Diego, Ca. It is one of the most stable areas temp wise with mild winters. It gets very warm out here, even up to 104 at times. It does cool down at night here. When we moved here this past Dec, it was one of the warmest winters in San Diego history with little rain.

I started my trees in the house mid February with a heat mat but no grow lights. At the time we moved in, I needed to see what our electric bill would run without grow lights.  The first bill because of space heaters was $400.  It took us three months to get the bill down to normal which is about $100.  So the trees were started on a table in the living room by the big windows with grow mats.  The seeds sprouted beautifully, grew to about a foot and stopped.  Nothing I did made a difference in the house. Grow lights probably would have made a difference in the experiment but the electric bill was sky high already. A majority of people growing Moringa trees do not have a grow light set up. They use a sunny window to start out their veggie plants. The plants were getting lots of sun in the house.

Next I took them out to the simple greenhouse we had constructed.  It was either too hot or too cold. They did not grow there.  Left them there several weeks. Sprayed them everyday for humidity. Re-potted them in high quality potting soil with natural fertilizer and mulch. Tried several different things that did not work. They refused to grow and looked worse. The greenhouse was not temperature controlled and the area was not ideal for circulation with the vents.  Very few people have greenhouses with extensive lighting and venting systems like the professionals use.

After 4 weeks in that method, I took them outside to a corner of the house that received good sunshine. They did nothing out there.  In this area,  they got too hot in the containers. Even though I was frustrated, I refused to give up on them.  There were about 50 trees to begin with. Now I was down to 35.

About this same time, I gave some seeds to a woman who lives in the same area, was a master gardener, had extensive experience, and knew how to grow from seeds. I gave them to her as a control.

Was it the seed quality, was it Spring Valley, was it something I had done wrong, or another factor? 

We had lived in this area before in the beginning of our business about 2009. I started out by growing the trees. There were no problems then. They grew like weeds.  In Stagecoach, Nevada where we moved to, I had started some trees that never did get to their full height.  Those trees just stopped growing at 5 feet. I thought then it was the Nevada climate lacking humidity and other factors ideal for their growth. Now I really wondered about the seed quality.   I had seeds from several sources and none did well in Nevada.  Moving back to San Diego, I thought would solve the problem.

The end of May, I finally moved them to the corner of our back patio where it was cooler, covered by some trees, with some sun.  They are in a very sheltered area. The kale is still growing in that area as well. It was much cooler in this new spot. I sprayed them everyday with water to keep the humidity up.  They did nothing there for several weeks.  So I just decided to keep them in that same spot to see what would happen when it got warmer.

About the end of June when it heated up, some of them began to grow. They got healthier looking, turned a beautiful green,  so that gave me hope.

Now it almost the end of July, and several are 3 feet high. Most of the others have grown some but not up to par. Some of them have not grown in this spot either. One has three blooms on it.  It is rapidly heating up here now that summer is setting in.  I am curious to see what the rest of these do. I am also going to plant some seeds this month for fun, just to see how they grow started in the warmer time period.

The lady whom I gave the seed to, did not get better results than I did up to the end of June.  I have to call her again.  I got calls in the area from two people during that same period who had purchased seed from other sources whose trees would not budge after about a foot or two of growth.

This summer is not over but just really starting,so  the complete conclusions are not in.  If all the trees grow by the end of summer, it was the temperature..  If only a few grow, it would suggest both seed quality and temperature.  I will post an update each month on the trees. I will not sell any of them unless I feel they are growing normally. The next three months will tell the complete story.

Growing Factors that affect Moringa trees and their health.

If you do not have a green house, your results growing Moringa will vary significantly according to climate, altitude, humidity, soil conditions, and sunlight.  If you live in Florida or Hawaii, the trees will grow like weeds. Those states have ideal growing conditions.  In other states, you will only be able to grow them in late summer until the first frost.  In some areas, they might not do do well at all. This is a tree that is normally grown in low altitudes, with humidity, warm weather, and lots of heat.  It must be planted in well draining soil that will not accumulate water during the winter. Plant in an area that has wind protection. Give it lots of room for its roots. They have a long tap root, so deeper is better. Over watering will kill the tree quick. It does need water during the early months. Give it organic soil and fertilizer.  Your experience in another area of San Diego may have completely different results. Seed quality may be at fault often in poor germination results. Seed rotting is another problem. Moringa seeds are high in protein so they mold easily.

This is the two brands I trust because they test their imported products for contamination, E-Coli, and heavy metals in a US lab.  I have now been using a number of their products for over two years including Moringa powder. DO NOT buy Moringa products unless the company states that they test for heavy metals and contamination. If you do you are risking your health. Organic certified can still contain E-coli, dirt, bugs, weeds, filth and insects.  This is the way it is folks.
 My #1 choice is Banyan Botanicals Organic Moringa Powder here 


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