Back To School

School starts again today for the kids.  In the desert it is still summer and if you went to one of these old local schools you remember how miserable it was.  It was hot and there as no AC or very poor AC systems.  The response from the teachers was that others had it worse before us.  A lot of new nice schools were built during the building boom so fortunately a lot of kids will be going to nice schools.  I remember going to school past the date palm groves and I remember the date palms on campus and most of all I remember the damn mosquitoes.  There were a lot of mosquitoes and in fact there is a special government entity that is responsible for mosquito control.  Judging by the looks of the date palms, the schools were very old, the date palms were still producing dates, but they were very tall.  The date palms were probably around 50-70 years old.  The school was probably the same age.  I resented the date palms, because the date palm is not as broad as a nice shade trees, so there was not a whole lot of shade.

Starting Your Own Medjool Date Farm

A lot of people dream about starting their own farm, very few dream about starting a medjool date farm or any other date farm for that matter.  Starting a date farm is no small feat and it is really something that should not be undertaken by someone that is too old.  Too old for the purpose of starting a medjool date farm is really anything over 50.  A date farm will not start producing fruit for about 5 years after planting 3 year old shoots.  If you are 50, you may be 55 or older by the time of the first harvest.  The tree will not mature until it is about 10 years old that would make 60 if you start at 50.  A medjool date farm is really a business to leave for your children and grand children, except that is very hard work and you have enjoy living in the desert, where it is 90 degrees in the middle of the night !  The first step is to buy a land in the desert with water.  Then you prepare the soil level the land and prepare a drip irrigation system.  Then you big your holes and prep them.  Then you get your shoots and plant them.   The success rate for shoots is about 70%, if you buy them in planters it is closer to 100%.  After you plant them you have to water them and get the drip irrigation system going immediately and even flood the field.  Then you put in a lot of time and effort and invest a lot for the next 5 years.  Then you are ready for your first harvest, probably about 100 pounds for every 5 acres, you will find that it is not enough to pay your bills for one month.  Then 10 years later you will finally have a decent harvest and decide that it was not worth it, except that if you have plenty of land you will find that you have now planted four times more acreage than you started.  Another 10 years and you have a viable business, or in the alternate you may just buy an existing farm and cut the wait time out to a few months.

Eating The Date Fruit Instead of Junk Food

About one third of all date fruit consumption takes place during the Passover-easter season.  The date fruit originated in the Middle East and is one of the oldest cultivate fruit trees.  Dates were not only enjoyed during biblical times, but were also part of the staple diet.  The date fruit has a lot of calories, but it has a lot nutrients as well.  It has a lot of fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, B vitamins, and trace minerals.  The glycemic load for dates is around ten, minute it is as bad for a super sweet and delicious fruit.  You can not get that from a candy  bar.  The Date fruit contains antioxidants including beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  These antioxidants protect against harm to the brain and other cells as they from from free radical damage.  Dates contain tannins which have anti inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties.  If you are a junk food junkie, substituting dates for snacks may be the way to enhance the quality of caloric intake.

DATE ARCHEABOTANY The Archeology of the Date Fruit

Remains of old date palm fragments have been found in various sites.  The most common remnants found are seeds commonly referred to as stones.  The seeds were commonly preserved by carbonization , but some were preserved by dessication, or mineralization or their impressions were preserved on mud bricks and pottery.  On occasion the whole fruit is also found preserved by carbonization.
Evidence of these seeds and carbon dating demonstrates that the Phoenix dactylifera was around the Middle East and were consumed in eastern Arabia in the neolithic period around 6500 to 5000 B.C.  The finding of seeds at particular archaeological sites does not mean the dates were harvested for consumption locally, because dates were easy to store and transport.  Dates could have been transported very long distances, because dates can be preserved for several months and theoretically could have traveled in trade routes very long distances.  When the woody fiber of the date palm and the seeds from the date fruit or the entire date fruit is found together then the likelihood that the date palm was  present in that particular location, increases.  The woody material from the date palm is usually found in the form or charcoal, but it can be identified by use of a reflected light microscope.  Date palms and date fruit remains have been found together throughout most of the Arabian Gulf from around 3,000 b.c.  Date palms in the wild are capable of producing large seeds just as domesticated varieties.  This makes it more difficult to ascertain which finds are cultivated and which are wild populations.  Homogenous findings tends to suggest the date palms were cultivated.  Very small seed findings on the other hand tends to suggest the date palms were wild.   Sometimes the seeds found are many and the sizes are too small, but not small enough to determine if they are likely to be wild or cultivated dates.   Around 3000 B.C. in eastern Arabia numerous remains of date palm were found along with date fruit seeds or impressions of annual crops this tends to prove that agriculture was practiced at an oasis.  The date palm itself used for production of food, but also as means of providing shelter and shade for other crops.