Moringa oleifera--better known as a horseradish tree--is grown in subtropical and tropical climates and is widely used as food and as a major source of essential vitamins. The moringa oleifera leaves, for example, have four times as much vitamin K than carrots, seven times as much vitamin C than oranges and twice as much protein than milk. Because of these facts, moringa oleifera is often grown to help decrease human malnutrition and to prevent disease in poverty stricken areas. Moringa oleifera is also an excellent tree for the average gardener to grow and can be planted from cuttings or seeds.
Prepare a planting site that is in full sun. Dig a hole that is 3 feet long in both width and length, as well as 3feet deep. Use two-thirds of the original soil (remove the rest) and mix it with equal parts of sand and composted manure to make up the difference.
Take a cutting from an existing moringa oleifera after the trees are done fruiting. The cutting should be a minimum of 1 inch in diameter and 6 feet in length.
Place the cutting in the center of the hole with the cut side down. The cutting must be straight so a second person may be necessary.
Backfill the amended soil and pack it firmly down every foot while filling in the hole. This will help avoid any air pockets. Continue to fill the hole. Pack down firmly one last time.
Form a small mound of soil around the base, a couple inches above the ground. Then add more soil to form a small slope to the ground. This will help with water drainage.
Water the new cutting about 2 to 3 inches. Try not to get the stem wet during the process.
Choose a location that is in full sun and plant seeds exactly where you want the tree to be. Moringa oleifera do not transplant well, even young saplings.
Amend the soil as described in step 1 in the previous section, however, you only need to dig a hole that is 1 foot wide and deep when planting moringa oleifera seeds.
Backfill the newly amended soil before you plant the seeds. Then, bury three to five seeds about 1/2 inch deep.
Water the seeds and keep the soil slightly moist so that the top does not dry out, but at the same time, ensure that it is not saturated all the time.
Wait until the sprouts emerge and when they (or one) reaches about 6 inches tall, keep the healthiest plant and discard the rest.
About this Author
Melissa Lewis graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has written over 20 episodes for the radio drama entitled "A Work in Progress." She also writes for several online outlets, including Gardenguides, Travels and Examiner, and is currently finalizing a movie script to be filmed in 2010.