Protect Young Trees
Sunscald, which manifests as split bark due to warm winter days and cold nights, is especially damaging to young ornamental and fruit trees. To prevent, wrap the trunks with spiral plastic white guards or paint the trunk with white latex paint. Be sure mulch is not directly piled around the trunks and add a circle of hardware cloth to keep rodents from eating the bark during the winter.
Provide Houseplant Rx
Houseplants that have summered outdoors naturally drop some leaves when brought indoors, so don't panic. Check all plants for insects and diseases and apply appropriate measures when necessary, following manufacturer's directions. Place the plants in the brightest light possible and consider adding supplemental fluorescent lighting for best winter growth. To keep plants growing well, fertilize regularly and keep evenly watered.
Prepare Soil for Spring
After finishing fall cleanup in the vegetable garden, tilling and incorporating organic material in the fall avoids the rush of garden activities and waterlogged soil in spring. Fall-prepared soils also tend to warm faster and allow earlier planting in the spring. This is also a good time to have soil tested for pH and fertility levels. Once the soil is prepared, cover it with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch.
Garlic is one of the simplest and easiest crops to grow. For our region, garlic can be planted until mid-November or even beyond, depending on the weather. To plant, gently break the garlic heads into individual cloves. Plant the cloves pointed end up, 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Mulch with compost, straw, or hardwood bark.
Make a Pie
The sweet fragrances of summer flowers may have passed, but the scent of spices from the kitchen makes the loss much more bearable. A freshly made pumpkin pie is certainly called for at this time of year, but apple pies and pear tarts certainly invoke the season as well. Farmer's markets are offering a wider variety of pumpkins and winter squash, so be sure to experiment with some of these to see if you can find a new favorite.