Garlic is one of the easiest of foods to grow, but is does produce best if planted in the fall, then harvested in mid-summer next year. Gently break the heads into individual cloves, and use the largest ones for planting. Have the soil prepared, and plant each clove, with the pointed end up, 1 to 2 inches deep and 3 to 5 inches apart, with about 12 inches between rows. Lightly mulch with compost, straw, or shredded leaves or hardwood bark. Don't worry if green growth emerges this fall; garlic is hardy.
Clean and Fill Bird Feeders
Scrub bird feeders and rinse thoroughly, then allow them to dry. The best all-around food for birds is black oil sunflower seeds. Plan on having another feeder for goldfinches, filled with nyger seed, as well as a feeder for shelled peanuts. Of course, ideally, there is also at least one suet feeder. Another feeder with mixed seed that includes white millet is a good idea, too. Finally, plan on having some corn for the squirrels. If squirrels at your bird feeders is a problem, place the feeder pole away from trees and add a squirrel baffle on the pole.
Clean and Care For Garden Tools and Equipment
To extend the life of garden tools and equipment, take the time now to give them some extra care. If pruning shears are sticky with sap, wipe them with distilled vinegar, dry, and wipe again with an oil-soaked rag. Sharpen any cutting or digging tools and wipe with an oil-soaked rag. Clean mowing decks, sharpen the blades, change spark plug, clean or replace filters, and run until out of gas. Apply light lubrication to any equipment with moving parts.
Water Trees and Shrubs
Some areas of our region have gotten adequate rainfall this year, while others of us are still below normal. Trees and shrubs planted in the last several years as well as all broad-leaf evergreens are particularly susceptible to winter injury if the soil is dry going into the winter months. Slowly soak the soil around any vulnerable plants before the ground freezes. It is also advisable to apply an anti-transpirant spray as well.
Don't Panic About Evergreens Dropping Needles
Do not be alarmed if evergreens, especially white pine and arborvitae, drop some of their older needles. All evergreens shed needles annually. You should still see plenty of green needles. If all are brown, then the plant probably is dead. Remember, too, that larch and bald cypress are deciduous conifers, meaning that they are supposed to drop all their needles in the fall