Goat Hill gears up for spring gardening

Goat Hill 1Every morning on his way to work, Dan Malone stops by King County’s Goat Hill Garden for a few minutes to rip up some weeds and make sure plants are growing as they should.

Malone and fellow Goat Hill Garden Coordinator Heather Whitten, along with other King County employee-volunteers, tend and manage garden maintenance and growth on their lunch breaks and before and after work at the garden located across from the Chinook Building in downtown Seattle.

Malone, a new Goat Hill Garden Coordinator, and Whitten, a veteran coordinator, have a few new ideas for the upcoming Goat Hill growing season.

“One of the things I’d like to do with this garden is bring awareness to a concept called permaculture. This is a very sustainable way of life and gardening with no pesticides,” Malone said. “I’m big on the local food and food activism.”

More composting techniques have been added from last year, as well as a new perennial bed and a potato bin.

The Goat Hill Garden’s healthy, sustainable crop all goes to a good cause: the Pike Market Senior Center food bank. The Senior Center provides free, healthy meals to people 55 and older, among other services like fitness activities.

In 2014, the Goat Hill Garden donated 400 pounds of food to the Senior Center. This year the garden is on track to meet or beat that number with 244 pounds already donated.

“Our big bulk is mainly things like chard and lettuce, the greenery that they might not be able to get as easily. They have a lot of canned stuff but not a ton of fresh stuff,” Whitten said.

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Whitten got involved with the Goat Hill Garden after looking out her office window.

“I noticed there were people out there gardening at lunch time. I went out there and talked with them and that’s how I got involved,” Whitten said.

Whitten noted the best part about being involved in the garden is knowing the food is being put to good use at the Pike Market Senior Center’s food bank.

“If I get to be 90, I hope somebody will want to feed me – and something that’s good and healthy, not just something that comes out of a can,” Whitten said.

In honor of Earth Day, Malone and Whitten offered some of their spring gardening tips:

  • Try gardening – Whitten suggests that people just give gardening a chance. “If you want to try it, do it,” Whitten said
  • If you don’t have space, try container gardening – “I’ve got rosemary and strawberries growing in my front yard in cat litter containers,” Whitten said. “Use what you’ve got.”
  • Plant now – “Earth day is actually a great time to get your spring crops in,” Malone said. “It’s going to start getting warm.”
  • Companion plant – A sustainable way to garden, companion planting pairs certain plants that use up different nutrients in the soil, to mutually benefit one another. “There are only certain plants you can do this with. I’m growing asparagus with strawberries together. Strawberries cover the ground and the asparagus grows up through them,” Malone said. “Some companion planting counteracts pests.”
  • Use the best soil – “When you put quality products in, you get quality products out,” Whitten said.
  • Share your garden’s bounty – “Share with everybody because you will get a ton of stuff. Everybody loves a fresh tomato or lettuce. Share with your neighbors – that’s how you get to know them.”