Northern & Central Midwest
Use Those Leaves for Free Mulch
As leaves fall, shred them with the mower. Use old blades since they will become dull. Blow the shredded leaves into existing beds or into piles for mulching later in the season when the ground has begun to freeze. All types of leaves will add great organic matter.
Water Your Woodies
With the lack of rainfall in many parts of the Midwest, be sure to water plants well before they go dormant. Evergreens, in particular, need lots of moisture to get them through the winter. If plants are stressed from drought, don't fertilize in the fall.
Bring Houseplants in Before They Freeze
Houseplants need to be brought indoors before the first frost. On a mild day, spray all sides of the leaves with a horticultural oil. You also can mix in some insecticidal soap to make sure you take care of any pests you don't want to overwinter indoors!
Harvest Root Crops Well Into Winter
Apply a heavy mulch, such as bales of straw, over carrots, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, and winter radishes. This will allow you to harvest directly from the garden for several months simply by picking up a bale and digging.
Keep the Garden Healthy by Cleaning Up
Take advantage of the final mild days of fall to clean up garden debris. Leave perennial seedheads for the birds to enjoy and to catch snow for viewing pleasure, but remove annual flower and vegetable waste. Also clean up fallen fruits in the orchard to start next year with a clean slate.