Northern & Central Midwest
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.