Monday, September 29, 2014

Moringa won't make pods?

I've been growing moringa trees for almost four years now. I've grown most of mine from seeds since those seem to be stronger than the ones I started from cuttings; however, there's a problem.

They don't make pods.

I planted PKM1, which is supposedly the best type for quick pod production, yet I'm still not getting anything. I've wondered if the issue is pollination, since they do bloom, but I don't know. They'll flower every year, sporadically, then the blooms will fall without giving me any pods.

The same thing has happened with the moringa trees down in The Great South Florida Food Forest Project. Who knows?

I've asked around about this problem and have seen something interesting: folks are getting pods from them even up here in North Florida, but I'm not. On further inquiry, most of the success stories I'm hearing about involve pods being produced on trees that are either growing in stressed conditions or in containers. My guess is that the restricted root development/tough surroundings are pushing the trees to produce seeds.

This makes sense. Stress induces a race to reproduce in quite a few species, including our own.

Ticking biological clocks = OMIGOODNESSINEEDABABYNOW!!!

I think I need to try keeping some moringas in pots to see if this theory is correct. I'm also going to plant more seeds in the spring from alternate seed lines. I have some seeds from Thailand (thank you, ebay) and some from Jamaica (thank you, Rycamor). I also have some from my friend Cathy. Here's a pod she brought over to share the other night:




Though moringas look like they'd be a nitrogen-fixing tree from the bean and pea family, they're not. They're the own thing, as you can tell from the differently shaped pods and seeds.

Anyone have any good tips on getting moringas to set seed?

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8 Comments:

At September 29, 2014 at 7:32 AM , Blogger john mule said...

David,
Even though moringa isn't a nitrogen fixer, isn't it still a good chop and drop because of its dynamic accumulator abilities?

 
At September 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM , Blogger Leon said...

I think my moringas go into pod-making mode only when they're stressed by the drought. When there is plenty of water they just grow leaves and branches.

 
At September 29, 2014 at 9:25 AM , Blogger Survival Gardener/David The Good said...

Yes - definitely. I use it for that. I'm actually testing it right now as the sole fertilizer for a bed of hot peppers. When I planted them I mulched with fresh chopped moringa branches and leaves. Thus far the peppers are quite happy.

 
At September 29, 2014 at 9:26 AM , Blogger Survival Gardener/David The Good said...

Yes - that meshes with what I've been hearing. The tree that produced for a friend of a friend was located in fast-draining scrubland sand. Probably a bit water starved, unlike the heavily mulched ones I have growing in rich sandy loam...

 
At September 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

Hmm... good point about the drought. When I got those seeds in Jamaica there had been a drought for several weeks. To the point where most lawns were turning brown due to water restrictions. The Moringa we got your seeds from was growing in the back yard of an industrial property that was mostly dust and scrub grass. Another Moringa I saw was one of the few lush, green things on a residential lawn that was mostly brown. It as literally covered in flowers and seed pods.

And of course, we've had an insanely wet few months here. One of our Moringas is literally 20' tall, but growing straight up like a pine tree, rather than spread out like the ones I saw in Jamaica.

BTW, I also noticed that aJamaican soil is distinctly reddish, probably full of iron and minerals. I think the whole island was once a volcano, as most of the rocks have that volcanic look.

 
At September 30, 2014 at 9:42 AM , Blogger Sheila O said...

I've got a 3 year old Moringa that has flowered the past two years but will not produce pods either. Very disappointing. I have a new Moringa started that I'm going to pinch off at 3 to 4 feet and see if continual pinching will force it to produce seeds. And based on this info I'll try planting one in a pot with some sandy soil, no amendments, just at the edge of the sprinkler so it will get a touch of water for a fun experiment! Great post David!

 
At September 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM , Blogger Survival Gardener/David The Good said...

Thanks for the observations. Dust and scrub grass - that's probably the key.

I think you're right on Jamaica's soil. From what I've heard, the reason "Blue Mountain" coffee is supposedly so good: minerals.

 
At September 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM , Blogger Survival Gardener/David The Good said...

Do it and let me know!

 

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