We love the days of October because even though our blooms in the garden are fading, the color of pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks and leaves will soon take their place. Gather some of autumn’s beauty and place it at your door. Include a scarecrow, too, to greet your family and friends.

It is harvest time in our Valley and in your garden. You should get those potatoes and onions dug and store them in a cool, dark place. Do not store any potatoes that have been cut into while digging — those need to be tonight’s dinner. Ask the kids to help with this job. They are closer to the ground. It’s time to dig those tender flower bulbs also and get them stored away. Dig your gladioli, calla and canna lilies, dahlias and any other tender tubers after a frost has blackened the tops. Store them in a cool, frost-free place.

We should work on getting our gardens cleaned up but not perfectly. We need to remember to leave something for the birds. They will snack on the seeds of cosmos, coneflowers, sunflowers and bachelor buttons. They also like the heads of ornamental grasses and by leaving them for the birds you also create a bit of winter beauty in the garden. Put garden debris such as vines and weeds without seeds into your compost bin … and if you don’t have one, what a perfect time to get one going. You can buy composters but can also make them yourself. Go online and Google “composting” and you will find many ideas.

We are happy to give up that weekly job of mowing the lawn, but we still need to give the lawn a little attention before winter. If you have not done so, give your lawn the last application of a fertilizer. Your evergreen shrubs and trees should be deeply watered this month also. This should be done before your irrigation water is turned off (check with your irrigation water provider to find out when that will happen). Also begin the task of raking leaves off the lawn. You do not want to leave them on the lawn over winter and you do want to use them as mulch now and bagged up for later, too.

Are you thinking you might want to make some major changes in your garden for next year? This could be the perfect time to get started. Maybe you are thinking of raised beds. They can be created by using recycled material, from old wood to brick to concrete. Kits can also be purchased. How about a picket fence around the garden to keep the dogs out, or some new trellises? Maybe it is time to talk about adding some chickens or rabbits. There are so many plans online that will serve you well. Now that the garden is put to bed, this is a good time to get busy creating.

Once you have cleaned up the garden, begin rounding up the tools of summer and store them properly. Clean all shovels, hoes, rakes, etc., of dirt and then rub some oil into their handles. Do some sharpening and oil the metal parts. Drain the gas from your lawn mower and other small engines such as your rototiller. Taking care of your tools is like money in the bank. They will last you a long time if properly cared for.

Have some fall fun. Visit the Yakima County Master Gardener Demo Garden for inspiration. Attend the two last classes of summer. Saturday, you will learn about harvesting and Oct. 26 bring the kids for a free minipumpkin decorating class. All materials will be provided.

You might want to try some new recipes to make use of your fall produce, including squash, pumpkin and apples. Share some with the neighbors. Take the kids to a pumpkin patch and have them pick out the biggest ones they can carry. Have a pumpkin carving contest in your family. Press some autumn leaves for decor. Embrace October.

• WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. Questions about gardening, landscaping or this program can be directed to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1604 or visit the WSU Extension office. The clinic is open March 1 through October on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (except holidays) 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Visit the Master Gardener Booth at the Yakima Farmers Market on Sundays starting through October. The new location of the WSU Extension Office is 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100 in Union Gap; phone 509-574-1600. New volunteers are welcome.