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Elena Parmiggiani


  • Joined: 02/02/2011
  • Last Updated: 02/02/2011
  • Location: Reggio Emilia, RE, Italy
  • Climate Zone: Cool Temperate
  • Gender: Female
  • Web site: www.permaculturaincorso.it

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A day with seedlings and bees

Posted by Elena Parmiggiani almost 4 years ago

Learning transplanting and beekiping from a special family

Today I was giving a great opportunity to learn more about running a professional greenhouse business and about professional beekeeping.


I took the day off to visit a farm close to my home (http://www.ilcampodeifiori.com/), and I worked with the owner, Marco Lanzoni, in the greenhouse where we transplanted lots of flowers, flowers that will go on sale next spring.

Marco in the greenhouse.

The farm is located in a small village near Cesena, in S. Vittore. They have 4HA of land with 10 greenhouses and a couple of polytunnels.

Most of the greenhouses are used to grow plants for seeds, a seed company contracted them to work on cabbages, leeks, radish, onions. The final product will be high quality seeds sold by this company to farmers all over europe.

They showed me around the yard and the garage, where there is a solar pv system installed, where Marco proudly said to me that today they made 21kw of electricity, worth 10 Euro, so they can pay for bred and milk for the family, Orietta added smiling broadenly.

The farm it's a Fattoria Didattica, an educational farm in which they host between 1500 to 2000 childrend a year from the government schools around.

The family has it's own Bed&Breakfast, with a special playroom for guests with different cabinet.

The cabinets are full of surprises.

All eggs, shapes and colours, sizes... There is even an emu egg, so dark.

In other cabinets Orietta put her own crafts on show: arrows, bows, bowdrills, buckskins, and many other wonderful examples of her creativity, to show all the childrend that visit how ancient people used their tools.

Orietta's creations and memories. On the left an old wooden rifle, with a clothespin trigger.

In other cabinets are games in wood or tin, with which Orietta and Marco used to play when young. And also shop bought games and dolls and cars, from when they were little.

Then they have carpets mimicking a lake or sand or grass, and the children have many different shapes cut in wood from Orietta, that they can put on these carpets and play with them, even fishing them from the floor.

When we finished the toor of the playroom, Marco took me to the greenhouse.

He had ready for me a couple of hundred seedlings to transplant into bigger pots and the family, nonno Lanzoni, Marco's wife Orietta and the eldest son, were all happy to teach me and show me with pride the work they usually do.

Marco was talking me through the various steps to run a greenhouse, starting from the warm air and irrigation system, to the cheap base of the warm beds and to selecting the best pot mix for the flowers.

Seedlings in different growing medium
Different mix, different plant. Left Portulaca, which requires a dry growing medium, right begonia, which loves moisture.

In the meantime we were filling up pots, transplanting and chatting away. I loved these moments, I felt the job was running smoothly and I was happy to stay there in this nice lot of people.

Transplanted seedlings.

We had a go on sowing some heirloom tomatoes and eggplants (aubergines) and we started them in  recycled containers.

Marco explained to me that the cost for 1000 professional tomato seeds are worth from 80euro to 160, depending on quality. He was talking only about standard hybrid seeds, non organic.

The germinability rate is very high, the quality and varieties well selected and the controls are stricts. He showed me greenhouses with pointed cabbages, chinese cabbage, packchoi, leeeks. All the greenhouses used for this are like big isolation cages. They are given the seedlings to grow and get pollinated, they grow them according to specific requirements: 2 rows female (pollinator) 3 rows female (sead bearer)... The seedlings are only numbered and Marco is not allowed either to know which variety is which or to keep seeds.

Marco has a long personal history, starting from 1976, of seed production. He taught me a lot in only one day!

At the end of the transplanting it was time to tend the bees, to give them candito, candy, for the winter.

We got to a field up in the hills and we chekched 30 beehives, many of them had still some food. The beehives were warm to the touch and the bees were alive and buzzing.

Marco and his bees
Marco opens a beehive to inspect the insects. On top of the beehive is a small container with candito. The bees get through a hole in the wood and reach the sugary food.

The location is close to an abandoned church, which is visited by vandals and we had a look inside to see if further damage was done. The parrish rent to Marco this place to keep some of his 400 beehives, of which many are scattered in nearby fields and hills.

Bees eating candy, sugar and glucose syrup. Some beekepers are against this method, and prefer to leave the bees with a reserve of natural honey for the winter because they say it is more healthy for them.

When we got home Marco showed me where they process the bee's products.

He took the time to explain the different aspects of the beekeping, the wax for the frames, how he grows more queens (for royal jelly and for the queens themselves), the composition of different honeys and the smell of dandelion honey which is close to "cat pee"... and pass this to the wood in the beehives!

He took me by surprise showing me how hard is the ivy honey, so hard not even bees are able to use it after they close the small cells, and how good is the acacia honey, taken up in the mountain last spring.

I got home with two jars of the most delicious golden liquid to spread on my friend's homemade bread in the morning!

A great day to cherish. I will go back for more beekeping lessons when the bees will be out and about in spring and so sow our own seeds to use in the gardens of the Fattoria dell'Autosufficienza.


Marco Trapianti Piantinesuolo Arnia Chiesa Apiecandito Apiecandito2 Conteggiovarroa

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Dennis  Posthumus
Dennis Posthumus : Beautiful!
Posted almost 4 years ago

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