Archive for zone 9b

It’s a Miracle

Posted in Trees with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by PickMeYard

Moringa is the miracle.  It’s called “the miracle tree”.   The scientific name is Moringa oleifera.

It’s not called the miracle tree because it is easy to grow, although it is easy to grow.  It’s drought resistant and grows in poor soils.  Moringa is a miracle tree because it’s being used to fight hunger.  The leaves are edible and extremely nutritious.  It is used to feed starving children and infants in undeveloped nations.  Moringa is also used as a medicine to treat AIDS/HIV (in Africa), diabetes, high blood pressure, stomach pains, the common cold, skin infections, cuts, wounds, rheumatism, and insect bites.  (Pharmaceuticals are not readily available in undeveloped nations.)

In agriculture, it is used to feed livestock and provide fertilizer.  It’s also used as a hedge.  The seeds can be used to purify water.  An oil extracted from Moringa can be used for cooking that is  as nutritious as olive oil.  The  roots and flowers can be eaten as well. Do you see why it’s called the miracle tree? No other word  better describes this tree. Truly a miracle of nature. Amazing.

This is  a small moringa tree growing in our yard.  Moringa is mainly grown for its leaves.  The more a moringa tree is trimmed and cut back, the more leaves it produces.  It will grow into a large tree, but it is best kept trimmed as a small hedge so the leaves can be easily harvested. The leaves contain 7 times the vitamin C of oranges, 4 times the calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas, 2 times the protein of yogurt, 4 times the vitamin A of carrots and 3/4 the iron of spinach

When the moringa leaves are dried and powdered, they contain 1/2 the vitamin C of oranges, 17 times the calcium of milk, 15 times the potassium of bananas, 9 times the protein of yogurt and 25 times the vitamin A of carrots.  It has almost the same amount of protein as an egg.  I read  this information on a website called Trees for life where there is a ton of information about moringa.

This picture is the  same tree in our yard as the picture above it. This is after 8 months of growth and several hard freezes in our zone 9b.  It looks taller in the picture than it really is.  I need to cut it back down to size which is easy to do.  It has sprouts up and down the tree.  The four other moringa trees that we planted froze to the ground.  However, it looks like the stumps are trying to sprout and might survive after all.  The tree produces seed pods that contain about 10-20 seeds.  They can be dried and stored or cooked fresh, like peas.

The leaves are mostly used when they are dried and powdered, but they can be eaten fresh.  I wouldn’t describe them as delicious or more-ish (you know, when you want more and more of whatever you are eating), but I would eat them if it became necessary.  I feel the same way about our chickens, ducks and pigeons. 

In southern Ethiopia, many families have a Moringa stenopetala  tree in their garden.  They cook the leaves the same way they cook a vegetable.   It is considered a status symbol there to have one of these trees.  The Moringa oleifera has smaller leaves than the latter, but they are both highly nutritious.

This is definitely my favorite way to eat moringa…as a jelly.  The taste is delicious.  I usually make a tea with the powdered moringa leaves that I purchased from Echo’s bookstore.   They also sell the nutritious powder in a convenient spice container so it can easily be sprinkled on your food for an extra vitamin and amino acid boost.  It is supposed to help memory and concentration too.  The dried powder can be ordered at moringaforlife.com, as well as many other moringa products.  The literature says it is really good for children, but my kids crinkle their noses and run.  The powder has an earthy, green flavor.  It’s hard to describe. 

When the tree is about 8 months old, it begins to flower and flowers year-round.  The bees love it.  The flowers are edible and can be fried or used for tea.  In Haitian folk medicine, the flowers are used to treat the common cold.  They boil the flowers and steep them for five minutes and drink with sugar.  Many other countries, including India, have tons of folk remedies for the moringa, especially the bark of the tree.  However, the bark is toxic and should be avoided. 

To top it all off, the trees are beautiful. We love that we are able to grow them in our yard.  For more background reading on moringa, try “The Moringa News Network“.  They constantly revise and add to their site.  Another interesting site is anamed, a charitable organization dedicated to saving lives in the poorest of nations. 

Come grow with us!

Advertisements

If you plant it…they will come, Part II

Posted in Bees & Hummingbirds with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by PickMeYard

This is Florida’s beloved firespike plant (odontonema strictum).  It is one of my favorite plants. It isn’t edible for people, but it sure feeds the hummingbirds.  They really, really love it.  We  had a hummingbird hanging out at this plant all day, every day,  for many months.  I have this planted in front of all our windows.  My son does his homeschooling at a table in front of a huge window with this plant as his view.  He watches the hummingbird while he works.  My son said a new hummingbird appeared yesterday while he was working. 

I  tell everyone I know to plant this if they want hummingbirds in their yard.  I  planted this at a house we used to live in that was completely covered under an oak hammock.  The entire yard was in dense shade.  This firespike plant still bloomed profusely most of the year and the hummingbirds were all over it all the time.  When we moved from that house I dug up some small seedlings and carried them with me to the new house.  When the firespike bloomed, the hummingbirds arrived. 

We’ve had many nights of freezing temperatures in zone 9b this year.  My firespike isn’t as green as it usually is, but it hardly looks damaged.  I believe the overhang on the side of the house protected it.  If it does freeze back to the ground, it will usually grow back.  In the ten years I’ve  grown this plant in my yard I have never seen it harbor any pests.  Firespike grows to a height of about six feet.  There are many other plants that attract hummingbirds, but this one is a must have for a Florida yard.

Come grow with us!

If you plant it…they will come.

Posted in Butterflies with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2010 by PickMeYard

Both areas of dirt is where the butterfly garden will be planted!

This is a project that got out of control…quickly.  Grayson and I planned for a butterfly garden around our bee boxes.  It started as a small garden to attract the flying critters we love and turned into a monster project. We have been collecting lots of butterfly, bee and hummingbird plants and decided we need a lot more space.  

A local nursery named Gulf Coast Palm & Tree came in and helped us big time.  They are truly the nicest people in the world. They took up all the sod and they’re coming back to put down the weed mat and  plant 450 feet of gulf muhly grass, sandcord grass and simpson stopper trees along our fence line. While they’re working on that, Grayson and I will put the butterfly plants into the ground.  I’ll post a picture of the transformation.  (We’re in zone 9b.) 

We picked up some monarch caterpillars over the weekend at a burrowing owl festival.  We made a habitat for them out of a plastic soda bottle and an empty butter container. We filled the butter container with water and poked a hole in the middle of the cap to insert a scarlet milkweed cutting.  We cut the plastic bottle along the bottom edge and used some tape to attach the two containers together. I covered the top with some cheesecloth and a rubber band. 

One of the caterpillars turned into a chrysalis almost immediately after moving into his new home.  We watched in amazement…caterpillar t.v.

 Come grow with us!