Northern & Central Midwest
Add Organic Matter
Once the garden is cleaned of debris, apply manure or other organic matter such as compost and rototill into garden soil. Shredded leaves, spoiled hay or composted sawdust all make good additions to help improve the tilth of your soil. Adding them now gives them time to break down before spring planting.
Wait to Mulch
Wait until the ground freezes hard before mulching perennials. You don't need to keep them warm since they are tolerant of freezing. Instead you need to keep the ground frozen during freeze-thaw cycles. Freezing and thawing can heave tender perennial roots out of the soil where they will dry out and die.
Prevent Rodent Damage
Protect trunks of woody plants to prevent rodent damage. Use fine wire mesh wire around the trunks, keeping it at least a couple of inches off the bark, and making sure it extends from the soil line to well above the usual snow line to prevent rabbits having access to tender bark.
Mulch Hardy Crops
Leeks, carrots, beets, winter radishes, parsnips and turnips can be left in the garden to harvest into the winter. They do need mulching, however, and the easiest mulch to remove when you want to dig vegetables is a bale of straw. Simply remove the tops and put bales of straw on top.
Store Apples Properly
After harvesting apples and pears, store them in a cold (33-35 degrees F) place for winter use. Spread them in a single layer and check them regularly for rotting. The old adage that one rotten apple can spoil the barrel is absolutely true. A rotting apple emits ethylene gas, causing others to over-ripen.