As many of you know, I am in the midst of creating a Rose/date farm. Over the last year, there have been many trials & tribulations with developing this, trying methods of yielding a crop of both roses & dates, that is most economically viable.
I initially started the farm buying 16 mother stock Date palms which are about 5 years old (but they don't count years until they are in the ground) So they have been in the ground for 1 year. At the time, they cost $180 each and I assume this price has risen. I knew if I wanted as many date palms as I dreamed, I either had to learn how to manifest money out of thin air quickly, or allow Mother Nature to show me other ways...
I chose the latter. I love eating dates, and decided to start saving the seed and trying my luck at germinating date palms from seed. I started off with hundreds of date seeds, and wrapped them in moist paper- it worked. Within 3 weeks, little shoots started appearing out of some of them. I wrapped them back up and let them keep growing. The bug had got me and I was excited.
I carefully nurtured these seedlings until their roots grew enough to have them in pots, and when the roots were straining to stay in the pots, and showed a sign of their first green shoot, I put them in the Earth.
Now, about 8 months after starting this technique, I have managed to plant 60 date palms into the soil. Naturally, dates being dioecious, both male and female- I will not know the progeny until years later, who is a male and who is a female! But that's okay. My objective was clear from the start- to have hundreds of date palms on my 2 acre property using high density planting, intercropped with roses & fruit trees. Some of these dates I have propagated, are not even in this country. I sourced date fruit from Medina, Makkah in Saudi Arabia, Southern Iran & Morocco, and they have since germinated to their first frond. Dates are awfully slow growing, but since being in the soil, their growth has quickened. The date palms are covered in an old milk container, to shield them from frost, cold weather and to promote growth in a 'incubated' environment.
Some may argue that growing dates from seed will yield an inferior quality of fruit, but this is how they would have been germinated 1000's of years before scientific methods were developed, and I am willing to take that gamble. I already have 16 strong mother stock palms, and being that some of these dates produce an average of 60-120kg of fruit per season-that is ample for one person. I always marvel at the resilience of nature, and given the right environment will thrive.
Look at the Methusula date palm for example. It is an 800 year old extinct Judean Date Palm. 2000 year old seeds (dated 155 B.C-64 A.D) were found in a
jar in 1963 at Herod The Great's Palace in Masada, Israel and were germinated by Dr. Elaine Solowey. One of the seeds sprouted, was a male and named Methusela, and 5 years later, stood over 2 meters tall.
So even after 2000 years, the resilience of Mother Nature is exceptionally inspiring.
Today, my initial seed propagating experiment is a success. I have gone from 16 date palms to 60, and there are several more about ready to be planted in a couple of weeks. I have saved myself thousands of dollars, hundreds of miles, and have learned more about the ways of Mother Nature.
As for my rose crop. It too, is going very well. Roses are reasonably well priced, depending on where you buy them- but when you want thousands of roses on your property, the cost adds up, and again, I needed to accept Mother Nature's offer at trying my hand at creative propagation.
I had acquired a large amount of rose cuttings in 2018. I dipped them in hormone powder to encourage root growth, and by October 2018, had a couple that had given me nice callouses but nothing to brag about. I put them in the ground and hoped for the best. Well, the best didn't come and they burned in poor soil thanks to the South Australian heat wave & drought.
This year, I have tried 2 different methods: 1) wrap my cuttings in newspaper, and 2) stick my cuttings in sawdust.
Here are the results:
The above pictures are of calloused rose cuttings via the "Moist Newspaper Method". The experiment worked but I will say it took over 2 months to get callousing like this, and 35% of the cuttings rotted. I am very impressed that even some cuttings as small as 2ml in diameter, even calloused.
The "sawdust method" proved to be much more quicker. These callouses are a month old and could be planted into the soil now, while the weather is cool.
I am thrilled with the results and will now put the calloused rose cuttings in the garden beds to fair their luck in there.
Should these cuttings take in the soil, I will have saved myself again, thousands of dollars. I am also not a huge fan of budded roses. I am not looking to produce roses on a commercial scale, so if I can propagate roses by using the cutting method to have them produce their own 'true' roots as opposed to using a root stock sort, then I feel this is a good thing. Budded roses using a root stock pose all sorts of problems with the root stock shooting up from under the bud/grafted area, and also, the bud union can be weak and very vulnerable, especially in winter.
I hope this inspires those of you that are wanting to experiment with growing your own plants from either seed or cutting, saving you dollars, as well as growing a passion for growing a garden on your own terms.