With people itching to start planting, the County of Vermilion River hosted a virtual gardening workshop with the Cheesiry on March 30.
Cheesiry owner, Rhonda Zuk Headon shared tips on planting, how to keep pests at bay, and how to work with compost.
“You don’t need tons and tons of space to garden. You can pretty much grow anything in containers – tomato, cucumber, herbs, lettuce, even watermelons,” said Headon who starts and grows all of the flowers for the Coulee Creations U-Pick garden near Kitscoty.
If you don’t have a lot of space for veggies, she said you can add some to a front flower bed, or with a small yard, you can grow things upwards.
People can also try using cold frames–wooden boxes with a clear lid–along the south side of their house for added heat. Plants like spinach, lettuce, peas, onions, carrots, or beets are cold season crops that she said can be started in those cold frames.
“I don’t like weeding so I’d try to fit in as much as I could, but then I tried raised bed gardening. Now I have permanent walking paths and see a more manageable space to weed,” said Headon.
You can also put down reusable landscape fabric to create less space that needs to be weeded. Headon’s favourite tools include using a chisel for transplanting, and a weed bandit (which is a Canadian-made tool).
She will soon be moving her seedlings from her basement to a heated greenhouse and said gardeners can try companion planting or crop rotation to help to keep pests at bay.
“Leaves are fantastic for your soil, but every time you add leaves or straw you will need to add something to break it down. Eggshells, coffee, or tea bags also make great compost,” said Headon.
For people who have a compost bin in their yard, she said you may have to add water to get it hot again, and that most compost you want to mix. She keeps layering hers and then digs what she is using out of the bottom.
Recommendations for how to avoid or remove insects included using marigolds or other natural methods such as water for ones who don’t like moisture. In the past, she has had to deal with cutworms, flea beetles, grasshoppers, slugs and aphids.
“Ladybugs are a natural predator for aphids. My nemesis are cabbage moths, so this year I am going to try covering my cabbage with nylons, because they will expand as it grows,” said Headon.
“Thank you for being here. I learned so much,” said CVR Agriculture Services Technician, Hannah Musterer.
To learn more about gardening and get some hands on experience in the sunshine and nature, by transplanting or weeding you can apply online to be a Garden Helper.
The Cheesiry will have seedlings for sale in June and will open for u-pick evenings from July–September. Spots are currently open for Coulee Creations Flower Subscription this summer by emailing [email protected], and she will be hosting summer workshops on arranging flowers as well.
Fall specialty tulip bulbs will be for sale in August, and she may be starting a garden club next spring.
For more information, you can follow @TheCheesiry on Facebook or Instagram or subscribe to their newsletter at https://forms.gle/3nkjmt5wvJAJWVGj7. You can also shop their Amazon Store at