Leaves of ornamental cabbage and kale often lack the full flavor of green-leafed varieties, but they make beautiful garnishes for salads and platters. You also can eat pansy blossoms that have been grown without pesticides, and a few chrysanthemum petals are welcome last-minute additions to soups.
Collect Big Garlic Cloves
When buying garlic for cooking, look for bulbs with big outer cloves. Pop off the biggest cloves and set them aside for planting later in the month. I use Thanksgiving as my traditional date for planting garlic. Meanwhile, I use the small inner cloves in the kitchen.
Gather Pine Straw
It's free for the raking, and there is no better mulch for plants that like acidic soil, such as azaleas, camellias, and blueberries. I stockpile a few bags of pine straw in my garage, so they are ready and waiting for mulching over pansies and other flowers when ice storms are in the forecast.
Set Out Evergreens
You don't have to wait until spring to set out evergreen shrubs such as hollies, junipers and yews. Fall plantings usually work great because winter rains keep young plants well supplied with water. Best of all, fall-planted evergreens should be nicely rooted by the time hot weather comes next summer.
Make Salad Tunnels
Extend your fall salad garden season by covering the bed with a plastic tunnel. Use hoops made from half-inch PVC pipe to hold the plastic aloft, and be sure to open the ends of the tunnel on hot days. Arugula, hardy lettuce and cilantro easily survive winter under tunnels.