Putting one of the females into the mud.
Because of the "poof-dirt" we have here in Pahrump, I needed to excavate rather large holes and refill them with a mixture of potting soil, pea gravel and compost, all turned into a slurry with water. This created a mud bowl perfect for planting. Date palm roots cannot tolerate any airspaces around the roots because our air here is nearly always below 25% humidity, even a few hours of exposure can mean certain death for young trees. Planting directly into the mud eliminates this problem. And as the water is absorbed by the tree and surrounding soil, the soil packs in around the root ball, making a perfect seal. I learned this technique first when replanting roses in Omaha.
I purchased the trees from China Ranch Date Farm. China Ranch is a family owned and operated small farm. According to available sources, a Chinese man named either Quon Sing or Ah Foo came to this canyon after many years of work in the Death Valley borax mines. He developed the water, planted fruits and vegetables, and raised meat for the local mining camps. It became known as Chinaman's Ranch.
Sometime in 1900, a man named Morrison appeared, and, as the story goes, he ran the Chinese farmer off at gun point and claimed the Ranch for his own. Morrison eventually sold out, but the name had stuck. Since then the canyon has had many owners and worn many different faces, including a fig farm, cattle ranch, hog farm, alfalfa farm, and others. In 1970, the property was purchased by Charles Brown Jr. and Bernice Sorrells, the son and daughter of area pioneer and long time State Senator Charles Brown of Shoshone. It remains in these families today.
The date grove was planted from seed in the early 1920's by Vonola Modine, youngest daughter of Death valley area pioneer RJ Fairbanks. Approximately half of the trees are male and produce only pollen. The females bear in the fall, yielding from 100 to 300 pounds of dates per tree in a season.
The Khadrawi variety that I bought are classified as a soft date, and is considered by many in the Middle East to be the best date for eating fresh. Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Messopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine, and ate them fresh at harvest. The earliest archaeological evidence of date cultivation comes from western Pakistan, from about 9,000 years ago in a Neolithic civilization known as Mehrgarh.
We will probably have dates in just three years. And the AΩ should get ready for a lot of new recipes including dates. With each tree producing up to 100 pounds of fruit per year, I'll have to be creative, or buy more freezers.