Starting Your Garden

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GET SMART— Making a plan for your garden before it gets going allows you to get the most out of it. For guidance, I recommend strongly that you get the following two publications: Martime Northwest Garden Guide (produced by Seattle Tilth and available for sale at both Co-ops) and Home Vegetable Growing in Washington (produced by Washington State University). I also encourage you to register for the Co-op’s Garden Center’s Garden Planning Workshop on February 3, 2018.

DRAW A MAP— You can get your plan going by drawing a map of your site. Make sure to include the size of your plots, their orientation, what was last planted in them and anything near them that may impact the light and heat they get like trees or concrete. You should also make a list of what you want to plant. Save yourself money and hardship by choosing plants that you actually want to eat, that your garden has adequate light, heat, and irrigation to support, and that you have the time and skills to successfully care for.

WHERE TO PLANT— Once you’ve got your map and your list, you can decide when and where to plant things. Use a planting guide from one of the resources I mentioned above for planning timing. In deciding where to plant things, take into account the space a plant will take up and how much heat and light it needs. Also, think about trying to rotate crops- especially if you grow heavy feeders like tomatoes or have soil diseases present on your site.


BE PATIENT—Trying to work soil while it is still very wet can seriously damage soil. Lots of people have a hard time waiting until their soils are properly dry (which can be as late as May some years), but it really isn’t worth it. I tilled in early March once and the soil turned into impenetrable clods of clay. You can make the waiting easier on yourself by using plastic or glass propped up over your garden beds (air circulation is important!) to keep the rain off your garden beds.

I’ve made absurdly simple set ups involving sawed-in-half hula hoops with old shower curtains zip-tied over the tops of them, but you can also order hoop houses if you’re feeling fancy…..[READ MORE]


Local Food Summit Proves What’s Good for the Planet Is Good for the Palate

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With four goals and more than 30 actions, Sustainable Thurston planted seeds to grow our local food systems’ economic vitality, environmental stewardship, and community coordination.

Three years after TRPC adopted the plan, our region is measuring progress, planning next steps — and taking time to taste what we’ve reaped and sown, of course.

About 175 people packed a South Puget Sound Community College building on Oct. 20 for the Local Flavors Tasting Salon, which featured bites from local food producers and artisans, and sips of local craft beer, cider, wine, and spirits. Attendees of the Friday evening event knew they were in for a treat when they moved straight from the registration table to samples of Sofie’s Scoops gelato, made from Tenino-based Tunawerth creamery milk. As people wandered through the tables of delectable nibbles, listening to the live music, they talked of smoked salmon and duck egg quiche, kombucha, beet salad, the lovely cheese and honeycomb display, and many variations of “I didn’t know we had so many unique and delicious culinary treasures in this area.” …[READ MORE]


Sound Food Building a Local Food Economy

Thank you ThurstonTalk for this wonderful article!


Supporting a healthy, local food economy in Thurston County means going beyond buying organic and sustainably grown food (though both are good places to start), and investing in the long term viability of local farms and food producers. The South Sound Food System Network (SSFSN) plays an integral role in bringing together growers, producers, marketers and local agencies to support that process. [Read More]

Learn How to Can at Home with WSU

Summertime means lots of fresh, sweet fruit and crisp, delicious veggies. Preserve your summer bounty for a well-stocked pantry through the dark, winter months. Join us in discussions on how to preserve fresh food safely, in a series of classes at WSU Extension Thurston County, 5033 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia.

Basics of Safe Canning – July 26th, 6-8pm
Learn the basics of food safety and canning skills, including bacteria and food spoilage, canning equipment, and canning high/low acid foods. Includes demonstration only.

Jams, Jellies and Spreads – August 2nd, 6-8pm
Delight in the bright, fresh flavors of summer fruits and discover how easy it is to capture sunshine in a jar. Learn how to create that perfect balance of sugar, fruit and other ingredients to enhance flavor and shelf-life with research-based recipes. Low and no sugar recipes covered. Come prepared to cook during this hands-on session, and take home a jar of fresh-made jam!

Pickling and Fermenting – August 23rd, 6-8pm
Crisp, tasty pickles are a true test of a canner’s skill. Learn how to make your perfect pickle! In addition, we will look at the traditional art of fermentation, with a hands-on sauerkraut-making session. Come prepared to cook and take home a jar of freshly-made sauerkraut!
Class size is limited and pre-registration is required for the three in-person workshops.

Cost is $25 per workshop or take all three for $60 and save $15! Register by emailing,, or phone: 360-867-2172.

Instructor Melissa Davis grew up watching her grandma preserve her garden’s bounty, and enjoying jar after jar of raspberries and pickled beets. She’s been in-love with canning ever since. After many preservation fails, she began her quest to learn the best and safest methods for home canning. Through WSU’s Food Preservation training, she learned the most up-to-date science and protocols for safe food preservation.

For more information on any of the courses, contact Melissa Davis, WSU Thurston County Extension,, (360) 867-2172.

Learn How to Can at Home