Vol. 7, No. 5

Sweater Weather

For many of us, autumn is a much-loved season. Not too cold (yet) not too warm (usually) and the sound and smell of the rain still seems romantic while turning everything green and shiny once again.

With any luck, leaves will hang on the trees long enough to stun us with their array of colors and the piles will stay crisp long enough for jumping. Here is your permission to leave leaves on the ground and enjoy the benefits of their mulching throughout the winter.

If yard care is on your to-do list, go ahead and let the yard overwinter with plenty of flowering plants going to seed and piles of debris to provide habitat for beneficial insects to stay cozy through the winter and bounce back in spring. If anyone questions your “messy” garden, you can let them know that you’re doing it for the bees! While it may seem as though there is much to do before winter comes, do take some time to enjoy a warm drink on a chilly morning and appreciate the changing seasons.

How often do you need to do regular chores? 

Keeping up with regular household chores like vacuuming, dusting, laundry, and dishes can seem like a real drag. Keep in mind that a regular cleaning routine helps reduce symptoms of allergies and asthma, protects you and your family from household toxics, and prevents pests and mold. How often do we really need to vacuum, dust, do laundry, and clean the dishes? Read on to learn more!


We recommend vacuuming floors and furniture at least once per week, and more often if you have young children at home. Vacuuming helps to remove the super tiny dust particles that hang out on the floor, in carpet, and on furniture. These particles can be made up of dirt, pet dander and fur, insect parts, mold spores, dust mites, pesticides, household chemicals, lead, and other heavy metals. Dust particles can get into our bodies when we breath in the air inside our home. Yikes! Weekly vacuuming can help improve indoor air quality and protect the health of you and your family. Since dust particles are tracked indoors on shoes, make it a habit to take shoes off at the door, and encourage visitors who are able, to do the same!


Weekly dusting can help limit our exposure to household toxic materials, allergens, lead, and mold. A microfiber cloth (dampened with water or dry) is an effective way to remove dust from household surfaces. Wipe down surfaces regularly to prevent mold growth. Dusting weekly can help prevent you or your family members from getting sick by reducing the exposure to allergens and toxics that hang out in dust. If dusting your entire home once each week seems like too much to manage, focus on high traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Cut down on clutter to save time because, less stuff means less to dust!


It is important to wash your bath and kitchen towels at least once per week or after three uses. This keeps the towels fresh and prevents them from harboring bacteria or mold. For bed linens, it is recommended to launder them at least once a week in hot water to keep dirt and bacteria from building up. Consider washing your bed linens more often if you have pets in your home or live with someone with allergies or asthma. 


Cleaning up the kitchen every day might seem daunting. Keep in mind that, washing the dishes and wiping down the counters at the end of the day is an important part of discouraging insects and rodents from invading your home. Plus, it feels great to wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen!

Getting into the groove of a new cleaning routine can take time. Try to spend 15-20 minutes each day keeping ahead of the mess and make regular cleaning more manageable for your schedule. Make doing chores more fun (and even relaxing!) by listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. A clean home is worth the effort and provides a healthy, comfortable living space for you and your family. 

Plant Garlic

Garlic is best planted in October or November for a mid-summer harvest. It doesn’t require any fertilizer or water throughout it’s growing season but once it’s about two (2) inches tall, add a layer of mulch three-four inches deep to protect it from the cold. It will need to be weeded once or twice in early-spring and is ready to harvest once it starts dying back, usually in July. 

  • Choose the largest bulbs of your favorite garlic variety to plant.
  • Plant in rows, six inches apart.
  • Keep the papery layer of wrapping on the clove and plant pointy-side up.
  • Mulch with straw, grass clippings, or leaves.
  • In late-spring, a long, thin, green garlic "scape" will grow out of the center foliage. Break these off and eat them like a chive. 
  • Harvest the garlic bulbs when the leaves start drying and turning brown.
  • Knock off the dirt, clip the roots, and hang in a dark, dry spot for 3-4 weeks to cure.
  • Separate the largest bulbs to plant again in the fall!

Pollinator Protection and Winter Preparation

The best way to keep local bee and butterfly populations healthy is to plant more flowering plants and eliminate the use of hazardous pest and weed control products. If there is a larger weed or pest problem than you know how to deal with, choose the safest product for the specific issue at www.growsmartgrowsafe.org

Clover in the lawn is great for pollinators and even dandelions provide important food for bees. Set the mower blades high and only mow if needed for weed control as the grass comes out of summer dormancy.

October is a great month to apply a slow-release fertilizer to encourage root growth. Look for products that say long-lasting, meaning that they will last longer in the soil and not run-off as soon as the rains begin. There is no need to spread a pesticide or herbicide all over the lawn so make sure that the fertilizer that you choose doesn’t contain them. Just about any product labeled organic will be slow-release and won’t contain unnecessary weed or pest control.

Remember, we depend on pollinators for most of our fruits and many vegetables, grains, and hops so if you enjoy beer, wine, bread, peaches, or pumpkin spice, protect the pollinators!


Q: We did a big painting project at home last year and have a lot of paint left over. The neighbors don’t want it and we don’t want to throw it into the trash, what should we do?

A: Thankfully, there are now several options to safely dispose of unwanted paint in Thurston County. Oil-based paint has always been accepted for free disposal at HazoHouse, located at Thurston County’s Waste and Recovery Center. With paint recycling now happening locally, HazoHouse accepts water-based or latex paint too.

Paint Care is the organization set up to recycle paint and they’ve created a system of drop off locations throughout Thurston County. Mallory and Rodda Paint in Lacey, Miller Paint and Sherwin Williams in Olympia, and West Olympia’s Ace Hardware and Habitat ReStore all accept 5 gallon containers, up to 20 gallons of paint per visit. Oil-based and latex paints, stains, and varnishes are all accepted for free, safe recycling.

Paint Care has a list of all of the locations in Washington that accept unwanted paint: www.paintcare.org/states/washington/


Wood stoves and Fireplaces – Cozy or harmful?

Wood-burning appliances can be a cozy way to heat your home but they can also create unwanted smoke throughout entire neighborhoods. Older adults and young kids are most at risk of health effects from smoke but just about anyone can feel unwanted side effects such as headaches, stinging eyes, and symptoms of allergies from wood smoke.

If you’re burning wood, keep these practices in mind:

  • Clean chimneys once or twice each year. Make sure to clean thoroughly before burning for the first time.
  • Only burn dry, cured wood. Wood needs to be dried for at least a year before it’s ready to burn.
  • Use paper and kindling to start a fire.
  • Keep the damper open when starting the fire. Make sure that the fire burns hot, not smoldering.
  • Keep the doors to wood stoves and fireplaces closed except when adding more wood.

For more information and to make sure that your wood stove is EPA registered go to:




Connect to Farmers

Olympia Farmers Market

Thursday-Sundays, May-October

10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

700 Capitol Way N

Olympia, WA 98501

(360) 352-9096


West Olympia Farmer's Market

Saturdays, May-October

9:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

1919 Harrison Ave. NW

Olympia 98502


Yelm Farmers Market

Saturdays, May 28-October 29

10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

The Yelm Community Center               

301 Second St SE

Yelm 98597

(360) 522-8939


The Farmer's Basket is an online resource designed to connect people seeking local, farm-fresh food with the wealth of our local farmers.

Community Events

Check these great local calendars for up-to-date information about what's coming up.

Thurston Conservation District

Thurston Talk

Experience Olympia Calendar of Events

Stream Team Calendar


City of Lacey Arts and Events

City of Tumwater Special Events

City of Tenino Community Recreation Page