The date palm tree, or Phoenix dactylifera, has been used for food for thousands of years. It's the second most useful and known palm tree, behind the coconut. The date fruit is considered a delicacy in the Middle East. It has a sugary taste and is a good source of minerals, protein, fat, potassium and sugar. The female date palm is the only one that bears fruit, but a male is required for pollination. It takes about five years for a female date palm tree to produce a crop.
Choose two spots to plant the date palm trees. You must plant a female and male tree for pollination. They should be 40 to 60 feet apart, in the full sun, with well-draining soil.
Dig holes that are twice as wide and deep as the containers the trees are in. Use the containers as a guide when you dig, to make sure the holes are big enough. Larger holes will give the roots the room they need to spread.
Lay manure down at the bottom of the holes. Cover it with 8 inches of soil, which should still allow enough room for the date palm trees' crowns to sit evenly with the surrounding ground. You don't want the roots above the ground or below it, because this will affect drainage.
Center the date palm trees in the holes. Fill in around their roots, to the base of the trunks, with soil. Tamp it down to remove air pockets.
Water the trees thoroughly after planting. This will also eliminate air pockets that remain. Let the water soak in slowly, making sure to water enough to reach the roots. The exact amount depends on the size of the tree, so insert a finger into the soil to determine the depth of the moisture.
Spread mulch around the bottom of the date palm trees. Use a natural material such as straw or wood chips. Mulch retains soil moisture and prevents weed growth.
Thin out smaller dates when the female tree bears fruit. This will give others room to grow a better crop. As you wait for the dates to ripen, cover them with clear plastic bags to protect them from pests, animals and weather.
Feed date palm trees twice each growing season with a fertilizer made for fruit-bearing trees. Follow the dosage instructions on the label. This will help the trees produce fruit.
Harvest dates from the female palm tree between September and November when they turn dark brown in color, with wrinkly, shiny skin. This indicates ripeness.
Trim the female date palm tree at the end of the growing season to get it ready for next year. Cut off all the branches that bore fruit. Remove discolored fronds from the male tree at the beginning of the summer.