Thursday, December 12, 2013

How To Protect Moringa Trees From Frost - 4 Easy Steps

Protecting moringa trunks from frost damage is the #1 thing you can do to ensure an early spring harvest of nutritious young leaves.

In the northern half of Florida, moringas will often freeze to the ground, then grow back again from the roots sometime in spring. If you let this happen, you'll be waiting on new leaves for a lot longer than necessary.

Want a shortcut that will give you much better yields? It's easy. I've written on this method before, but it's time for a better demonstration. Here's how I do it.

Step 1: Chop 'Em Down!

Chop your moringa trees down to 4' trunks in late fall or early winter. I wait until the first frost is coming, then do this the day before.



It hurts to cut the trees down, but you can take away some of the pain by drying leaves to use through the winter. See?


I usually put away a couple of dry gallons of leaves... that's a LOT of moringa. We never run out.

Step 2: Make Rings!


Got some old chicken wire or other fencing? Get snipping and bending!

It's easy and fun. Just watch yourself on the sharp wires.

I make my rings about 16 - 20" across, depending on the size of the tree. You can see one of the trunks above is a lot thicker than the other little moringas - that one is over two years old and was protected last winter. The others are only a year old.

Once you have your rings, move on to step three.

Step 3: Stuff Those Rings

I buy straw for this step but you could easily use leaves instead. Last year I used pine needles. All you want to do is make sure you get plenty of protection between the wires and the trunk of the trees. I stuff them tight, like so:


And that's it! Once all danger of frost has passed, pull the rings off and rake away the straw. The moringas will shoot up like rockets from the intact trunk and you'll be harvesting new leaves in no time... while your friends wait sadly for their moringa trees to return from the ground.

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19 Comments:

At December 12, 2013 at 11:50 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

It looks like you're preparing for some ancient Druid ritual in your back yard.

 
At December 13, 2013 at 12:04 AM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Wicker tree.

 
At December 13, 2013 at 12:05 AM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

And I forgot to add Step 4: Go nude and paint yourself blue.

 
At December 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM , Blogger Leon said...

The best part about this method? Eventually your 4' tall trunk will get so thick you won't need to worry about light freezes.

 
At December 14, 2013 at 1:18 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

You're totally right.

 
At January 6, 2014 at 8:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I have 4 of these Moring trees for the last couple of years. These are growing in 32 gallon trash cans that I move into the garage every winter, and they stay here for 3 months under lights. During the year they get upto 18 feet and I trim them back to 5 feet during winter.

This year I am planning to plant a couple of them in the ground on the south side of the house where it is a little sheltered and use your method to protect them during winter. I live in North Texas where the temperatures can get to 15 degrees during winter, do you think the trees will still survive using your method to cover them?
Also, if I plant them about 3 feet from the house, would the roots pose any danger to the foundation of the house (I am not sure how big the roots get, or how invasive they are)?
Appreciate your reply...
thanks,
JM

 
At January 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Good questions. I have one moringa tree near the back of my house: no root problems. They have really weak wood (and the roots pull up easily) so I don't think they'd break the foundation.

I wouldn't be surprised if the trees survived 15 degrees; however, it only hits that temperature for an hour or two here. Where you are the length of time is probably a lot longer... if you had a couple of days below zero I think the cold might get through the straw insulation and get the tree.

What I would do is plant a couple out as test trees and see what happens. Keep a few back in the cans for a reserve. Worst case scenario, you lose a couple. Best case: you discover you can quit dragging around giant trash cans!

 
At January 6, 2014 at 10:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Thanks for the quick reply. I am going to try this. How big do the roots get for a Moringa tree that is 5+ years old? I am just trying to figure out how close I can plant to the house, the strip that I am planning to plant in is only about 8 feet wide, so I will have to plant at about 3 feet from the house.

thanks,
JM

 
At January 6, 2014 at 10:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

David,

I assumed that the trees will have to have some amount of leaves to survive through winter, but in your article I am seeing that the trees have no leaves when they are covered by the straw, do they not need leaves on them during winter months, can they survive 3+ months without leaves?
Do you water them during winter?

thanks,
JM

 
At January 6, 2014 at 11:01 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Yes - they survive fine without leaves. These trees are wicked tough, despite their weak appearance. Generally, people in my area let them freeze completely to the ground in the winter. They'll come back in March/April from the roots, which are often an inch or so down beneath the frost-rotted trunk, then grow 10 or more feet. Crazy.

I don't water them during winter and our winters are dry here. If you have soggy winters it might hurt them.

 
At January 6, 2014 at 11:02 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

I can't answer that - all I can do is guess. My trees are three years old at this point. I've seen ones a decade or more old but I'm not sure what the roots were like. There weren't any popping up from the ground that I could see.

I'd plant it next to the house in a heartbeat. Of course, I've always been a gambler.

 
At January 7, 2014 at 12:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Can I use shredded mulch inside the chicken wire instead of straw? Any downside? What is the coldest temperatures in northern half of Florida?

thanks,
JM

 
At January 7, 2014 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Yes. Downside: less airspace and more likely to pack down under rains. I've used leaves, straw, pine needles or whatever I can find.

Coldest: 12 degrees is the lowest I've seen, but that was for less than an hour.

 
At January 7, 2014 at 12:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have thick black clay soil in my part of TX, so I am not sure if the Moringa trees would like this, I remember reading somewhere that they prefer sandy soil. So I am planning to cut out the bottoms of the trash cans and letting the tree grow out its root into the ground. Then in winter, I will surround the thrash can with chicken wire like you suggested, and fill it with stray or mulch.
Do you think this would work, or would the roots freeze because there are in the trash can instead of in the ground?

thanks,
JM

 
At January 7, 2014 at 2:39 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Just start planting and see. You'll get a feel as you go.

 
At October 16, 2014 at 10:47 PM , Anonymous Hendry Creek Hideaway said...

You are very clever David the Good! Many of my customers ask how to grow Moringa in a northern climate. I'm from South Florida and my trees never freeze. So that's how you do it! Do you save the tree tops, keep them moist and plant them in the spring?

 
At October 16, 2014 at 11:36 PM , Blogger Survival Gardener/David The Good said...

Feel free to pass on my blog to your customers - I like having people grow such a wonderful and healthful tree. I don't bother saving the tops, other than the leaves. I find that moringa grown from seed has a lot more vitality than trees grown from cuttings.

 
At February 5, 2015 at 3:30 PM , Blogger Shoshana Grambo said...

Hello. I just came across your blog! I read all i could about germination and then planting my young moringa tree..but...I live in Ohio. So am certain this means my tree will be an indoor plant. I really really want to attempt growing 2 trees.
Is this silly?
What sort of light should I use,,please? Normal 6400k CFL suspended above my young plants?
Also ...when do I put the tree in a trash can to grow? Once its reached how tall? Thanks!
Shana.

 
At February 5, 2015 at 3:31 PM , Blogger Shoshana Grambo said...

Hello. I just came across your blog! I read all i could about germination and then planting my young moringa tree..but...I live in Ohio. So am certain this means my tree will be an indoor plant. I really really want to attempt growing 2 trees.
Is this silly?
What sort of light should I use,,please? Normal 6400k CFL suspended above my young plants?
Also ...when do I put the tree in a trash can to grow? Once its reached how tall? Thanks!
Shana.

 

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