Northern & Central Midwest
Don't Neglect the Compost Pile
Keep that compost pile going. Feed it with grass clippings, plant debris from the vegetable and perennial gardens and fallen fruits from the orchard. If you want compost to use next spring, plan to turn the pile a couple of times this fall to speed things up.
Prepare for Freezing Weather
Be sure to drain all hoses and turn off outdoor faucets before a hard freeze. Bring indoors all paints, garden chemicals and other solvents. Sharpen and oil your tools. Clean out birdbaths and feeders and consider purchasing a heating coil to keep water in the birdbath from freezing.
Take Care of Your Terra Cotta
Empty and clean terra cotta and cement containers, and store them upside-down in a spot where they will not get rained on. Keeping them dry will prevent cracking and breaking through the winter. If you don't have a place outdoors, bring them indoors for protection.
Don't Protect Roses Yet
Wait until you've had several days of 20-degree weather to begin protection of tender roses, such as hybrid teas, grandifloras, miniatures and grafted climbers. Mound about 1 foot of compost or loose soil around base of roses, and prune canes of hybrid teas back to about 2 feet.
Plant Spring Bulbs
Hardy, spring-flowering bulbs can still be planted as long as the ground is not frozen. Water the bulbs in well and cover with a fine-textured mulch, such as compost or shredded bark. If rodents and squirrels are a problem, plant the bulbs in small cages to deter them.