Plant Garlic and Shallots
Both garlic and shallots are easy to grow. They do best in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Plant individual cloves with the blunt end downward and pointed tip up, placing them 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface and 4 to 6 inches apart. Cover the soil with a mulch of chopped leaves. Depending on the weather, leaves may emerge this fall, but most of the growth above ground occurs next spring. The bulbs will be ready to harvest by the middle of next summer.
Plant and Transplant
Save time next spring and take advantage of fall garden center sales by planting containerized and balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs. Fall is usually rainy, but in case it isn't, be sure to water plants deeply at least once a week. Many perennials, including daylilies, heucheras, and hostas, can be divided and transplanted now. It's best to wait until spring to divide and transplant fall-blooming perennials.
Remove spent vegetable plants, cut off perennials that do not offer winter interest, and remove any dead plant matter that can harbor insects or diseases. Rake leaves at least once a week so they do not mat and kill the grass or other plants. Keep mowing the lawn until it stops growing. Pull up winter weeds, such as chickweed and henbit, so they don't overtake an area and reseed. As you finish using garden tools, clean and dry them thoroughly and store in a safe, dry place. Drain and store hoses.
Enjoy Fall Colors
First the dogwoods (Cornus spp.) and sumacs (Rhus spp.) turn their shades of burgundy, then all the other colors begin to explode. The yellows, oranges, and reds of sugar maples (Acer saccharum) reign supreme, but don't overlook the brilliant gold of gingko (Gingko biloba) or the reds of black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), or scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea). Be sure to enjoy the shrubs that offer fall color, including witch hazels (Hammamelis), summersweet (Clethra ), blueberries (Vaccinium), fothergilla (Fothergilla), and oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).
Coax Amaryllis into Reblooming
Amaryllis bulbs that bloomed last winter, then continued to grow this past summer, either indoors or out, will reflower after they've gone through a dormant period this fall. Cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store it in a cool (55 degrees F) dark place with no water or fertilizer for eight to ten weeks. After that period, water it once thoroughly and put the potted bulb in bright light and temperatures above 60 degrees. Keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges, then water only when the top inch of soil is dry.