A garden full of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits in the US
Passionate about farming, as soon as she came to the US 16 years ago, Ms. Thanh Thao renovated the 450 m2 garden around her house into a “paradise” of all kinds of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits.
Nguyen Thanh Thao, 38 years old, came to the US in 2005. The woman from Thai Binh province lives and works in San Diego, California with her family of seven.
Since childhood, Thao has been a lover of nature and plants. When buying a house in the US, she likes that the house must have a garden and trees to satisfy her passion for farming. Thao said: “When I first came to the US, I was very homesick and craved Vietnamese food. So to improve my meals and satisfy my interests, I worked as a farmer at home.”
In addition to the housing area, the garden of Thao’s family is nearly 450 m2, divided into 4 parts: the front garden, the back garden, and 2 small gardens on the side of the house. When she first bought it, the front garden was a green lawn, but she decided to remove it to plant trees.
Because the garden is located close to the walking path, many people pass by, so she planted a fence, planted roses around to create a beautiful landscape, and added a flower fence to cover vegetables and fruits in the garden.
Southern California is a mountainous area with many rocks and clay. In order to grow big trees, Thao has to renovate and change the land. The mother of three often has to dig a meter deep hole and water it to soften the soil, the next step is to pick up rocks and then pour soil and fertilizer into the hole before planting. Because she still has to work, there are holes that take her a few days to complete, if, at home, she spends the whole day in the garden.
In the front garden, Ms. Thao chooses dwarf varieties so that the trees don’t grow too high and obscure the house such as hibiscus flowers, lilies, corn, jujubes, etc. In addition, she also grows peaches and kumquats every time. When spring comes, from the outside looking in, the house is filled with the scent of Vietnamese Tet.
The garden behind the house has a larger area, surrounded by perennial fruit trees. In the middle of the garden, Thao keeps a large yard to make a place for her children to play or organize a weekend party for friends. In this garden, she grows a lot of pure Vietnamese plants, suitable for the California climate such as: locust, orange, mango, grapefruit, jujube, dragon fruit, longan, peach, avocado, plum, na, roi… The purest Vietnamese vegetables such as sweet potato, dong, and Thien Ly flower also grow well here.
On both sides of the house, gourds, squash, melons, and bitter melons are made by Ms. Thao as a truss and for climbing plants. In the lower part of the land, she grows some short-term vegetables such as spinach, spinach, amaranth, eggplant, water spinach, herbs, etc. Clean products for year-round use.
Every day, in addition to watering, she also takes advantage of the early morning or evening when she comes home from work to pollinate some plants such as gourd, squash, custard apple. Thao’s garden mainly uses soils, fertilizers, medicines … with organic substances, so the quality is always guaranteed, not afraid of residual toxic substances for the body.
In order for the garden to grow green and bear fruit, Ms. Thao uses cow manure, rotten wood, and good soil in equal quantities and then puts it around the base of the tree every three months. At the end of winter, in order to have good roots and flower plants in the spring, she added fertilizer with a high phosphorus index. When flowers bloom, water NPK fertilizer continuously for a week, helping flowers to set fruit more. With vegetables, to keep the leaves much and green, Ms. Thao fertilizes with high nitrogen fertilizer every 2-4 weeks.
In order to obtain valuable tree varieties as well as learn how to plant and care for trees, Thao joins many Vietnamese tree-planting groups in the US. Wherever you go or find out that there are varieties of plants suitable for the climate that are pure Vietnamese, she buys them. Over time, there are all kinds of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables in the garden.
Thanks to her “cool hands”, her family harvests so many vegetables every season that they can’t eat them all, often giving them to relatives and friends.
The garden is not only a place to fulfill her dream of growing crops since childhood but also helps her relieve stress and chaos in life as well as work. This is also a green space for the whole family to gather and chat in their spare time.
Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, for more than a year, Thao’s children have not been able to go to school, so outside of online school hours, the three girls like to go to the garden to help their mother pull weeds, catch worms, and pick vegetables. The children also love to eat pure Vietnamese dishes such as jute spinach eaten with eggplant, spinach cooked with minced meat, even chicken with wormwood or fish soup, vermicelli noodles of Thai Binh people.
“From a young age, children are acquainted with and enjoy vegetables bearing the essence of their homeland, so the children are also closer to the Vietnamese national identity,” she shared.
Sixteen years living far from Vietnam, but thanks to a garden with all kinds of fruits and vegetables, Thao always feels like home is somewhere around her. Therefore, outside of working hours, every time she returns home, being a farmer brings her joy, happiness and laughter.
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