Master Gardener Program

Program Contact: Cori Carlton, Master Gardener & Master Recycler Composter Program Manager
(360) 867-2162 •

Come Grow with the WSU Master Gardeners of Thurston County

A volunteer service gardening organization – cultivating plants, people, and communities since 1973.

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2018 Upcoming Events and Activities….



Join us for the following workshops. Workshops are free, open to all, and no pre-registration needed, just show up.

Hydroponics 101- Workshop

Tuesday, May 1st, at 6pm at the WSU Extension office-3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Olympia WA 98503

Hydroponics is the art of growing plants without soil. Come learn about state-of-the-art techniques for producing food in a soilless, nutrient rich medium.


New to Gardening in the Pacific Northwest? A few essential things to know – Workshop

Saturday, May 5th from 10am to Noon at Multipurpose Room B, Olympia Community Center, 222 Columbia Street, Olympia

Those of us lucky enough to move to the Pacific Northwest may find the same conditions that produce all this gorgeous green can present new and unfamiliar challenges to the would-be gardener. This workshop will provide an overview of essential ways gardening may be different and what to do to enjoy success in our maritime climate.  You’ll come away with lots of new ideas, tips and handouts concerning water, soil, pets, fungi and even hazard trees to help you create lasting success and enjoyment in your new vegetable, ornamental or native plant garden. The session will include a 20-minute Q & A with a couple of long-time local WSU Master Gardeners.


Worm Composting Workshop

Thursday, May 10th  at 11am at the Lacey Timberland Library-500 College St. SE, Lacey 98503

In celebration of International Compost Awareness Week we invite you to come learn about worms! This workshop will include step by step instruction on how to turn household food scraps into a rich soil amendment for your gardens. Join us for a worm-tastic time!


Yard & Food Waste Composting Workshop-

Tuesday, May 29th at 10am at Dirt Works Demonstration Garden-Yauger Park, West Olympia

In celebration of “National Learn About Composting” Day we invite you to come and learn how to turn your yard waste and food scraps into a rich soil amendment for your gardens. At the workshop you will learn:

  • What type of yard waste is best for home composting
  • Determine if a compost bin is needed and if so, what type will work best for you
  • How to monitor and troubleshoot the yard waste composting process
  • Tips on applying yard waste compost for a healthy, beautiful yard.

Meet at the gazebo inside the garden. Please dress for the weather as this workshop will be outside. Bring garden gloves if you want to participate in the “hands-on” portion of the workshop.


2018 Annual Plant Sale


Saturday, May 19th

9am to 4pm

Dirt Works Demonstration Garden-inside Yauger Park in West Olympia

For more information visit

Plant Sale

Or download the Plant Sale flier MG Thurston_Plant Sale18



Children’s Garden Program


FREE Summer Gardening Programs for children ages 4-12 years old

Join us for summer fun and hands-on learning in the Dirt Works Children’s Garden!

WSU Master Gardener & Master Recycler Composter volunteers teach children gardening and environmental science education through fun and creative activities. Activities are designed to promote a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment, and cultivate the mind.

The bounty raised from the garden will be donated to the Thurston County Food Bank and flowers given to local nursing homes.

Parents or guardians must accompany children at all times during the program.


2018 Program Schedule & Themes:

Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

July 10th – Plant Parts & Puns & Fun

July 17th – Sensational Seeds

July 24th – Bee-tastic Pollinators

July 31st – Vermi-“wormy”-Compost

August 7th – Rainbow Dye Garden

August 14th – Veggie Superheroes

August 21st – Fairy & Gnome Fest

To Register:

Programs are free but we ask that you please register so we can better prepare and serve you. Space is limited.

This program is designed for individuals, no large groups (i.e. day cares, youth groups, youth camps etc.)

To register please email or call (360)867-2162 by the Friday before the program you plan to attend. Please include your name, contact information and age(s) of the children joining us.

Remember to dress for the weather.

When you arrive you will be asked to sign-in and complete/turn in a participation form. The participation form will be available on our website, after June 1st. Either complete the form ahead of time and bring it with you OR complete the form at the garden before the program begins. Each child must have a completed form on file to participate.

Parents or guardians must accompany children at all times.

Download the Children’s Brochure here. Children Garden at Dirt Works Brochure 2018


Directions to Dirt Work Garden:

Dirt Works Garden is located inside Yauger Park in West Olympia. The entrance to Yauger Park is on Alta Drive next to The Park @ Cooper Point Apartments (3200 Capital Mall Dr. S.W. Olympia, WA 98502). Follow Alta Drive into the Yauger Park parking lot. Dirt Works is located at the end of the lot. The easiest way to find us is to Google “Dirt Works Demonstration Garden”.

Learning/Demonstration Gardens

Dirt Works Demonstration and Composting Garden  Closed Loop Park  Olympia Farmers Market Garden                                                                            In Thurston County, WSU Master Gardener and Master Recycler Composter volunteers create and maintain three learning/demonstration gardens. These gardens provide inspiration and showcase scientifically proven gardening practices. For complete details visit our demonstration gardens page.



WSU Thurston County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training Information

Next to digging in the dirt, there’s almost nothing gardeners enjoy more than learning about their favorite plants. One of the easiest ways to increase your gardening knowledge is to enroll in WSU Extension’s Master Gardener course next spring. For forty four years, Washington State University Extension has been training Master Gardener volunteers in the science and art of gardening.

The WSU Master Gardener course provides WSU research-based information on how to improve soil, identify common plant pest problems including insects and diseases and weed problems, as well as honing your gardening skills. “Hands-on” workshops provide advanced training on pruning, composting, plant propagation and a host of other practical gardening skills.

There is a misperception that to become a WSU Master Gardener you must know everything about gardening. To be a WSU Thurston County Master Gardener you must have gardening experience, but more importantly you must commit to sharing accurate gardening information with our community.

The purpose of the WSU Master Gardener training program is to prepare you to do gardening-related volunteer service in our local communities. Volunteers who are part of the comprehensive core training course will learn the latest information on how to successfully grow their favorite ornamentals, veggies, fruit, and a whole lot more. After completing WSU Master Gardener core training, graduates agree to perform 60 hours of approved volunteer activities before earning the WSU Master Gardener title. Volunteers can choose from a wide array of activities, suited to individual tastes and talents, to satisfy this requirement.

WSU Thurston County Master Gardener Training Details

Applicants accepted into the WSU Master Gardener volunteer training program participate in 21 weeks of classes in person and at home by using the on-line training program. Our in person trainings will happen from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on alternating Friday’s. The location will either be a training room in Lacey or we will be on a field trip. Exact dates, location and further details will be given once training details are posted.

The 2018 training program is full and in progress. We only train once a year from January-June. Applications and training information for the 2019 training course will be posted here after October 1st. For more information or to be placed on the interest list (we’ll email you a reminder when training information becomes available) contact:

Cori Carlton, Program Coordinator at 360-867-2162 or

Do You Have a Gardening Question?

Do you have a plant eaten-up by bugs or diseases? Maybe you have a plant or weed you cannot identify? Or, you have a spot in your garden and you need advice on what to plant? That’s where the WSU Master Gardener volunteers of Thurston County can help. Come visit one of our Gardens or Clinics for the answers.

West Olympia Gardening Question/Answer Clinic
3054 Carpenter Rd. SE
Benoscheck Building
Olympia, WA 98503
(360) 867-2163

Hours of Operation:

  • February – May and September – November the clinic is open Tuesday & Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • June – August the clinic is open Tuesday  –  Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • The clinic is closed December and January

Before dropping by the clinic please call ahead to make sure a volunteer is there to assist you.

 The Gardens and Clinics are operated by WSU trained and certified volunteers. These volunteers can only provide information to home gardeners. Commercial farms and businesses need to contact Extension office for help, (360) 867-2162.

Do You Have a Composting Question?

Call our rot-line at (360) 867-2163 or email or attend one of the following workshops.

 2018 Composting Workshop Flier

Directions to WSU Thurston County Extension Office:

The WSU Extension office is located at 3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Olympia, WA 98503. Our office is located inside the Thurston County Fairgrounds.


Directions – Heading to Lacey on I-5 South:  Take Exit 109, turn left onto Martin Way. Take Martin Way to Carpenter Road. Turn right onto Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds will be on your left.
Directions – Heading to Lacey on I-5 North:  Take Exit 109, turn right onto Martin Way. Take Martin to Carpenter Road. Turn right onto Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds will be on your left.


Upon entering the Fairgrounds continue straight and drive past Heritage Hall on your right and the Expo Center on your left. The WSU Extension office is the brown building located behind the building painted like a cow. “Benoschek” is the name on the building where the WSU Extension office is located. The office entrance is located on the right side of the building closest to the east area field. Parking is available on the backside of Heritage Hall.



For questions please contact Cori Carlton, Program Coordinator at 360-867-2162 or


WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office. Persons will disabilities who require alternative means for communication or program information or reasonable accommodation need to contact Cori Carlton at 3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Olympia WA 98503, 360-867-2162, at least two weeks prior to the beginning of training.