Clean up the Orchard
Sanitation around fruit trees and berry plants will go a long way toward preventing disease and insect problems next year. Fallen fruits and leaves provide overwintering sites for fungal spores and insects, so disposing of them now will help out next spring. Composting may not kill pests, so dig a pit and bury the debris you collect.
Pot and Chill Bulbs for Indoor Bloom
Save a few bulbs from outdoor planting to pot up for bloom indoors. Plant in clean pots with sterile potting soil. Water and store in refrigerator or cold frame. Make a note on the calendar to bring them into the warmth in ten to fourteen weeks. Water and enjoy the blooms!
Begin Dormant Pruning
As soon as the leaves fall, begin renewal pruning on twiggy shrubs such as dogwood and viburnum. Remove no more than one-third of the largest stems at ground level. This will force new growth from the ground next spring, giving better color and a somewhat reduced size. Remove one-third each year for a healthy, attractive shrub.
Prepare Soil Now for Spring Planting
After all garden debris is cleaned up, add compost, shredded leaves, rotted manure or rotted straw to the top of the soil. The organic matter can be left on top and planted in directly in spring, or you can dig it in lightly with a garden fork. Avoid the temptation to rototill, which breaks down soil structure.
Take Care of Garden Tools
Soil left on tools over the winter degrades them. Brush off soil with a wire brush and wash metal and wood parts. Wipe down with mineral oil or vegetable oil. Wipe excess off with rag. Sand any splinters on wooden handles. Sharpen pruner blades and clean off sap with steel wool. Oil blades.
Reduce Transplant Shock
Houseplants that summered outdoors will suffer temporary shock when brought indoors. Help the plants through the shock by pruning them back, holding back on water and fertilizer, and giving them as much light as possible. A sunny windowsill will help. Don't fertilize until spring except for plants that bloom all winter.
Wait to Mulch Roses
Wait until after several days of 20-degree weather to mulch hybrid roses. Mound 12 to 18 inches of composted manure or a mix of soil and compost around the base of hybrid tea, floribunda, multiflora, climbing, and miniature roses. Prune hybrid teas to 18 inches; leave others for spring pruning.
Empty and Clean Containers
Empty ceramic, cement, and terra cotta containers. Soil from the pots can be stored in a bin in the garage for the winter and then combined with fresh mix to fill pots next year. Scrub out and then store containers upside down in a frost-free space.
Clean Bird Baths and Feeders
Clean out bird baths and feeders for winter use. Fill bird bath with clean water and set up heating coil to prevent water from freezing. Fill bird feeders with clean seed and make a date to clean and wash feeders every two weeks or so to prevent disease.
Don't Move Christmas Cactus
This is the season for Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus. Put them in a cool spot where they are subjected to a few days of 45 degree weather. As soon as you see tiny flower buds form, move the cactus to its display spot and don't move it since moving often causes them to drop the buds.