Monday, January 8, 2024

Harvesting Before the Freeze

Thursday, I heard it was supposed to freeze overnight so I went ahead and harvested the moringa leaves that were big enough for tea. I rinsed them off and laid them out to dry.  (When I have longer branches, I hang them to dry.)

It didn't freeze that night. 

But it snowed yesterday! 

So our moringa survived to live another day. I went ahead and grabbed a handful to add to some left-over moringa and chayote soup. The hot soup warmed me right up. 

Pulling the moringa leaves off of the little branch.
You may have noticed that our largest moringa tree (shown above) looks kinda scrawny this year. That was the result of a little experiment I conducted to see how well they would do on just the rainwater collected in our right-of-way basin. (After all, it had grown so big and full after the monsoon storms of 2019...) But I hadn't counted on the long dry spell we had this summer. Our poor moringa really suffered. The two smaller trees actually looked stunted. We finally gave in and watered them with harvested rainwater (a total of three times this year) in an attempt to get some leaves to harvest. In retrospect, we should have done it sooner. Live and learn.

Deep watering stunted moringa in basin.

It was a good thing that I harvested the leaves, because I woke up to a frosty 28 degrees this morning! It's COLD! 

Overflow from our cistern was frozen.
By 11 a.m. our biggest moringa looked like this...  

On the bright side, it always comes back from the roots in the spring. 

Though...I am trying another experiment... (I never learn!) In past years I wrapped insulation around the bottom of the trunks to protect them from freezing. This year I decided not to since moisture had gotten trapped under it.  And it's supposed to rain soon. So cross your fingers.  

 In the meantime, at least I saved moringa tea to send to my mom... 

Dried moringa tea leaves.

NOTE: Our moringa trees were planted in the right of way to take advantage of the rainwater in the catchment basin. But they have no protection from the cold so they die back after a hard freeze. But there are large moringa trees in Tucson that don't freeze because they are sheltered by a wall or other trees. 

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