Rice husk and banana leaves nurture a Mekong Delta nursery

By Phong Vinh   October 7, 2019 | 07:17 pm GMT+7

Thousands of vegetable seedlings are cultivated and sold for just VND800 (4 cents) a piece in Can Tho City.

People in Nhon Hung Hamlet, Phong Dien District in Can Tho have had the tradition of planting for many generations.

For residents of Nhon Hung Hamlet, Phong Dien District, such nurseries have been a way of life for generations.

Banana-leave pots are kept intact using tiny bamboo sticks and filled with ash and rice husk.

The "pot" for the seedlings to sprout are basically banana leaf pieces that are rolled in a cylindrical shape and pinned with thin bamboo pieces (like toothpicks). These are then filled with ash and rice husk.

Nguyen Thi Bay, 52 said that she started working at her husband’s family’s garden nursery 27 years ago. There is no season in this job, we plant all year round. My husbands family has been doing this for three generations, she said.

Nguyen Thi Bay, 52, said that she started working at her husband’s family’s nursery 27 years ago. "There is no season in this job, we plant all year round. My husband's family has been doing this for three generations." 

Bays husband Tran Van Ly Em, 55 buys fertilizer from a well-known facility in the area. The boat transports dozens of fertilizer bags here every day, which we consume for about 2-3 days, he said.

Bay's husband Tran Van Ly Em, 55, said once the "pots" are prepared, they are filled with ash, rice husk and fertilizer that he buys from a well-known shop in the area. "The boat transports dozens of fertilizer bags here every day, which we consume in about 2-3 days."

According to Bay, the familys productions are shaped by customer orders, which are often in large quantity. We cultivate a variety of plants, mainly tomatoes, peppers, vegetables, some flowers ... but the most popular items are gourds, watermelons, and squash, she said.

Bay said the family's production is shaped by customers’ orders. "We cultivate a variety of plants, mainly tomatoes, peppers, vegetables and some flowers ... but the most popular items are gourds, watermelons, and squash," she said.

After the seed is planted inside the rice husk, they are arranged in rows on a rig. On average, the couple and a few of their employees plants 1,000 pots.She said newbies usually don’t know how to arrange the pots in line and convenient for calculation and would be easily discouraged by the work and. This job is not very difficult, but the important thing is to be patient and hard working, she said.

After the seeds are planted inside the rice husk, they are arranged in rows on a rig. On average, the couple and a few of their employees plant 1,000 pots a day.

Bay said those new to the jobs usually don’t know how to arrange the pots in line and make it convenient to calculate the number of seedlings. Newcomers are also easily discouraged by the work. "This job is not very difficult, but the important thing is to be patient and hardworking," she said.

A seed planted by the couple typically needs 10 days to grow. The customers come to pick up the plants after 10 days. The plants are not put directly in the soil, but on rice husk.

A seed planted by the couple typically needs 10 days to grow, after which the customers can collect them. 

Ly Em said for every pot sold at VND800 (less than half a cent), the family earns VND50.

Ly Em said that for every pot sold for VND800 (4 cents), the family earns VND50.

The Mekong Delta people live mainly on the water. But when the water has not come, we can still make ends meet with this job, said Bay. The family of Bay and Ly Em is one among many households in Nhon Hung hamlet that owns a plant nursery. Each family specializes in certain varieties.

"The Mekong Delta people live mainly on the water. But when the water does not come, we make ends meet with this job," said Bay.

The family of Bay and Ly Em is one among many households in the hamlet that runs a nursery. Each family specializes in certain varieties of plants.

One September afternoon, a group of tourists cycled along the nurseries in Nhon Hung hamlet. They visited the Ly Ems family’s garden to learn about their craft.

A group of tourists cycle along the nurseries in Nhon Hung Hamlet. Curious visitors tend to stay longer and learn more details about what the nursery owners do.

 
 
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