Saturday, February 4, 2017

Martha's Gardens Date Farm

I've been wanting to visit Martha's Gardens ever since I heard about it two years ago. I love dates and am interested in how they are grown. On Thursday Bob and I went there and joined a tour.
 We rode in comfort on a wagon pulled by a farm vehicle.
Our tour guide was the manager of marketing and he was very knowledgable about all aspects of raising dates. Here he is showing us a flower from a male palm. The pollen is collected by hand, and over 6,000 female palms are hand-pollinated each Spring.

Martha's Gardens grow Medjool date palms which are all descended from palms in Morrocco. Male and female trees produce offshoots clustered around the base of the tree which are removed and planted to grow new trees.
Male trees produce male offshoots and female trees produce female offshoots. Each baby palm is an exact genetic duplicate of its parent. Only one male tree is planted for every 50 female trees which produce the dates. 

It was a gorgeous day to be out looking at date palms!
 Yuma is set in a fertile river plain, watered by the Colorado and Gila Rivers, as well as many canals.

 At the edge of Martha's Gardens we saw the fields of salad crops grown in this area.
One quarter of the date farm is certified organic, but the entire farm features organic garden methods. Huge forklifts are used to pollinate, trim, provide maintenance on the trees and to pick the dates. It is a very labor-intensive business.

We indulged in a couple of the famous date shakes after our tour, and we came home with some dates as well. They are very good.

On Friday I did something else I've always wanted to do. I gave blood. Having done it once, I'll be sure and do it again! 

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