Production of garlic on volcanic soil in Ly Son Island

Sunday - 05/08/2018 12:21
Ly Son island, located in the north-east in Quang Ngai province and 30 km from the mainland, is formed mainly from volcanic products. The island has an area of nearly 10 km2, in which hills cover nearly 2/3 of the area with the population of around 22,000 residents.

According to the Institute of Geology, under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Ly Son island has 10 craters. Among them, six volcanic craters are on the main island, one in Be (Small) island and the other three underwater. On the main island, there are five bowl-shaped mountains formed by volcanic activities with the highest is Mount Thoi Loi at 169m. The step-formed terrain surrounds the foot of the mountains and volcanic topography covers 70% of the island. The mineral rich basalt soil has been formed through the millions of years of weathering from volcanic products. This special soil is believed the attribute to distinctive taste and medicinal the garlic bulbs grown on Ly Son.

In the 1950s, first garlic was taken to the Ly Son island by traders on the way back from Hue and trial cultivated. The first harvested garlic bulbs with distinctive flavor encouraged Ly Son farmers to expand the garlic production. In 1958, Ly Son garlic was introduced in Da Nang warmly received by consumers. Since then, Ly Son garlic has become a trademark to customers nationwide.

The production of Ly Son garlic requires many stages, of which the vital is soil preparation. The cultivated soil could be replaced after one to three years depending on the soil and cultivating conditions. To replace the soil, the surface sand layer of 1-2 cm will be taken aside for reuse. The underneath layer of sand mixed with old and yellowish brown basalt will be removed. Then, the bare basalt soil is fertilized and compacted. A layer of compost or organic plus leaves, NPK fertilizer was first placed then covered by a layer of basalt soil at the depth of 1-2 cm, then compacted. The new basalt soil is taken from the mountain or excavated at the depth of 0.3 m to 3 m.

Scratching the surface sand layer

Digging up the basalt soil

Spreading organic and basalt soil in the garlic field

Once the new basalt soil is compacted, the old surface sand layer, which was taken aside, was now spread across the field, then a layer of coral sand of 1-2cm was covered before placing garlic stems. This coral sand is taken directly from the seashore after removing large particles. The plentiful white sand in Ly Son beach is exhausted because of using sand to grow garlic and shallot by farmers. Recently, they have to extract sea sand offshore for garlic production.

Covering the sea sand in the garlic field

Spreading new sea sand and preparing cultivation

The special taste of Ly Son garlic is attributed to the rich basalt soil together with diligent soil preparation and farming processes by hard working farmers. Garlic and shallot cultivation is the traditional farming of the resident on this beautiful island, which generate income for a large parts of the population, especially when Ly Son garlic has successfully built up the trademark in the local and national markets.

However, the farming process releases waste sand and soil causing environmental pollution. In addition, the extraction of sea sand for garlic cultivation results into erosion around Ly Son island affecting the marine environment and coastal ecosystems. Therefore, a long-term solution should be concerned for the sustainable development of garlic cultivation on the Ly Son island.

Author: Pham Van Cong

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