- Keep watering. If rains taper off (as they sometimes do), make sure your plants don't get stressed, especially the shallow-rooted ones like camellias and azaleas - these are getting ready for winter and spring bloom. And don't forget your container plants.
- Year-Round Kitchen Garden:
- Now is the time to plant cover crops on any vegetable beds you won't be using immediately.
- Using simple season-extenders, like row covers and/or cold frames, you can enjoy vegetables throughout the cold months. You can grow lettuce, mesclun mix, mache, onion sets, spinach, carrots, radishes, broccoli, collards and mustard greens under cover. Wind and heavy rain protection is more important than cold protection in this area. Some gardeners let their row covers "float" by placing it right on the plants, or you can drape the covers over wire hoops. In either case, secure the cover with large rocks to keep it in place.
- Just before the frost comes (check the weather) pick all your green tomatoes, wrap them in newspaper, and put them in a cool, dry place. They should ripen in the next few weeks.
- Harvest pumpkins and winter squash after frost wilts the vines but before a deep freeze. Delicata and acorn squash will be ready to eat. Other squashes should cure to develop their flavor and storage capacity - keep them in a warm location with good air circulation until the stems and skins are hard.
- Harvest apples and pears when they are ready. Make sauce, or store in a cool area that stays above freezing.
- Dig up the potatoes. They store well in a cold area that remains unfrozen, but keep them in an opaque box or with a blanket covering them. Light turns them green, creating solanine. Solanine is toxic if consumed in large quantities.
- Harvest fall crops like carrots, beets, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and leeks as you need them. Provided they have protection from hungry animals, mature plants can stay in the ground after frost - they won't bolt until the weather warms up.
- Plant garlic in a sunny spot in well-drained soil amended with compost. Separate heads into cloves and plant the cloves, with the point up, a couple knuckles deep and a palm width apart in all directions.
- Woody and Ornamental:
- Now is absolutely the best time to transplant container shrubs and trees. Dig your planting hole no deeper than the rootball and approximately 2 to 3 times as wide. Amend the soil with compost, roughly 1 part compost to 4 parts soil.
- For rootbound plants, make 3 or 4 slits into the root ball with a sharp knife. Set the plant into the ground at the same level as it was in the container, or as recommended by your nurseryman. Make sure the roots make full contact with the soil and there are no air pockets. Water twice while transplanting, once when the roots are half covered with soil, and once after final covering. Keep the soil moist, especially in case of a dry spell.
- Get rid of dead branches on trees and shrubs, but don't prune heavily as winter will burn new any growth and possibly kill the plant. Do check your climbing roses and other plants to make sure canes are firmly secured to trellises. As soon as seasonal growth stops due to cold, you can begin thinking about pruning, but you are well advised to wait till deep winter.
- Soil and Maintenance:
- Get ready to start your new compost heaps. Begin with all the debris left from the summer garden, adding fall leaves as you gather them. You need to make piles or bins large enough to hold in the heat but not so big they can't breathe. A cubic yard is about ideal. If weather is dry, moisten the piles until they are about as wet as a squeezed out sponge.
- Winterize your garden equipment. Remove debris, empty the gas tank, change the oil, sharpen the blades, and make needed repairs on your lawn mowers, string trimmers and tillers.
- Now is the time to feed your cool-climate lawn using an organic fertilizer with naturally slow release nitrogen.
- This is the month to do all those lawn maintenance jobs, including aeration, and fixing damaged patches. When seeding, remember to keep the area evenly moist, and remove tree leaves daily.
- If you have areas of lawn that are just not thriving (especially places that don't drain well, or are in deep shade under trees), now might be a good time to consider converting those trouble spots into natural areas. Mulch heavily, and plant some shrubs and perennials.
- Critters Good and Otherwise
- Get your bird feeders ready for winter, and leave a few flower heads in your garden during clean up, if you can. They provide a good source of seeds.
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