Moringa – as a Vegetable

We have a Haitian friend who comes by periodically to check up on the progress around our little farm. We first met him when he answered an ad we had placed in the paper to sell some of the gang of little male goats that had been born earlier in the year. He asked if he could walk around and look at everything. We obliged.

The Haitian gentleman was thrilled to see that we had chickens and immediately asked about eggs, old hens and roosters. He said he missed the flavor found in chickens that were allowed to roam freely. About that time, he turned and saw the moringa trees lining the fence. He ran over to them, shouting and laughing. I didn’t understand a word he was saying and I’m not sure if my sister understood him but he finally slowed down and reverted to speaking English. He was thrilled to see that we had moringa trees. He calls them something else, though, and I still can’t understand him when he talks about it. He asked if he could have some… and we said yes, in spite of the fact that we weren’t sure exactly what or how much he wanted.

He began snapping off the new growth at the tip of each branch,

Moringa Leaf Tips
Moringa Leaf Tips

about 10-12″ of it, stems and all. At this stage, the stems are soft and green. We asked him how he planned to use it. “Cook it, like spinach” was his immediate reply. “Cook it in soup with other vegetables” came next. He took a nice bag full of it and was just as thrilled with the moringa as he was with the goat he had purchased.

Chewan visits us regularly now, always asking about goats and “the trees”.

And so, although we had only seen the medicinal side of moringa ourselves, we learned that in many third world countries, moringa is also a basic vegetable, cooked and eaten as an everyday part of life.

Time to Get Growing

If you happen to be a transplant from the North, your mind probably isn’t turning to vegetable gardening at the moment. We lived most of our lives in an area where you carefully monitored the weather, longing for the frost-free date when you could safely plant your tomatoes. Then, in early September, you monitored the weather again, this time for the first killing frost that would officially finish the vegetable gardening season.

Well, that’s all different here in SW Florida!

I’m having a difficult time adjusting my head to this fact, in spite of living here for some 22 years or so. I did better this year and actually had the vegetable garden started in February. It was a huge success, for the most part. Then I did the unthinkable. I planted a second crop of my favorites. It was a total failure! The only plants that thrived were the weeds. I learned the hard way that our hot, humid, rainy summers are not what the vegetables want. If they sprout, they quickly succumb to mold, mildew and the wide variety of bugs that all adore the summers here. I even managed to screw up a crop of okra, which is supposed to do well in our summers!

And now it’s time to Get Growing again. Late August should have seen me planting tomato seeds, as well as most other plants we normally transplant into the garden. I should be starting to transplant them out NOW. Instead, my more or less Yankee brain is just now getting itself wrapped around the idea of planting the seeds.

Not to worry. It will take 4 to 6 weeks to get the seedlings big enough to transplant. Seeds germinate quickly in this weather, so I should be able to get caught up… unless we have more of the horrid freezing weather we had last year!

Today I will be planting two or three varieties of tomato seeds, peppers (both sweet and hot varieties), broccoli and other cole crops. If time and energy permits, I will be planting green beans, too.