Cruella (my wife) and I arrived back from our English house to find that we had had a massive thunder storm in Spain whilst we were in England. Hooray, every water butt was full to overflowing, and the grass which I had fed before we went away was so green it could have been in Ireland. With this Great joy comes obvious responsibilities: grass needs to be mown, weeds need to be sprayed, Doves need to be sacrificed (as far as Cruella is concerned). But nevertheless besides these mundane chores there is lots of exciting things to do to keep an old gardener happy.
25th September: Things I have been doing lately.
🌴 Harvesting Dates. After my great success of sun drying figs I am now going to try sun ripening Dates. You will remember in my last post – if you were paying attention – that because of the great drought there was a huge crop of Dates on our Palms this year. Well, I have started to harvest them for the first time. Normally, I just leave them for the squirrels and the birds, but this year there are so many I thought. I deserved some. Dates can be harvested early and then will continue to ripen in the Sun.
The first photo below shows one of our few short Phoenix Palms overflowing with Dates. Most of our trees are about 30/40 feet high and I don’t trust Cruella to hold the ladder. But this one has enough fruit for an experiment in date ripening. You can leave the Dates on the tree to ripen fully, but the chances are that the squirrels and birds will beat you to it. Try not to harvest them when they are green, but wait just that little bit longer till they turn a yellowy colour.
The first job is to cut off the stalks which hold the dates in strands. This is a tricky job as the branches have long strong spikes sticking out all along their length. You should wear strong gardening gloves (but they will still get you). You can either cut the stalks off with a saw or, in my case I used long handled shears. The second photo below shows my crop laid out ready for separating the Dates from the stalks.
The next stage involves sitting in the shade and gently removing the Dates from the stalk by hand. You should only take the best ones with overall continuity of colour. The Dates come off easily enough with a slight twist. The third photo below shows my Date stripping station (now I read that again it seems slightly creepy) sorry @#me too.
The final stage is to lay the harvested Dates out in the sun to ripen. As you can see from the photo below, I have laid the Dates on tea towels stolen from the kitchen and then covered them with a couple of Cruella’s hats. The idea of the tea towels is that it makes it easier to just wrap up the Dates and bring them in each night. I will let you know how I get on.
🍊 Feeding fruit trees. October is really the last month you should be feeding fruit trees. So, if you haven’t done it yet get out and do it soon. The process is very simple just hoe around the base of the tree to remove any weeds and break up the soil. Then apply the type of feed you prefer, but it must not be just a general feed, you need a specialist food for fruiting trees. You can get this in either liquid or granulated form. My preference is to use liquid form for most of the year, but for this last feed I will use a longer lasting granulated form. Liquid feed is a bit like fast food you eat it quickly, it tastes nice and then it’s gone. Granulated food is like a four course meal at a nice restaurant; you digest it slowly, enjoy every bit and always remember it. I am thinking of giving this garden stuff up and becoming a restaurant critic.
The photo below shows the feed that I use (others are available) note my trusty hoe standing near by (no I’m not going there again, I have already apologised), also don’t forget to hoe the feed in and also water it if it does not rain within two days.
One thought on “I’m back and it’s all systems go”
Mature date palms were a brief fad in San Jose and other towns in California during the 1990s. The trees were somewhat inexpensive as the orchards around Las Vegas were being displaced by urban development. You would think that date palms would be too messy for landscapes, but they are only messy if the develop fruit. The male trees needed to pollinate the female trees were conveniently not recycled.
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