Prepare Beds for Annuals
Prepare garden beds for winter annuals before planting. Mix a couple of inches of compost into each bed and raise the beds if possible for better water drainage during the wet winter. The results will be worth the extra time and effort. Mulch new transplants after planting to deter winter weeds and moderate root zone temperatures.
Refrigerate tulip and hyacinth bulbs from now until mid- to late December before planting. Place them in the lower part of the refrigerator. Do not leave bulbs in airtight plastic bags during refrigerator storage, or they'll rot. Plant them in the garden immediately upon removal from cold storage. They will quickly sprout and bloom.
Collect Leaves for Composting
Leaves are valuable assets in the garden, either as mulch or converted into compost. Gather and stockpile fallen leaves and pine needles, or use them to build a compost heap. Here\'s how to build your pile: Lay down a 6-inch layer of leaves and a 4-inch layer of grass clippings. Cover with a light sprinkling of garden soil and wet the layer with a hose. Repeat layers until the pile is at least 3 or 4 feet tall. A cup of fertilizer can substitute for the green material to provide the necessary nitrogen for decomposition. Cover and let cook.
Plant Cool-Season Flowers
Plant cool-season bedding plants now. Pansies need well-drained soil and at least a half day of sun to thrive. Other annuals to set out as transplants now include ornamental kale and cabbage, snapdragons, stock, sweet alyssum, pinks, sweet William, and calendula. Seeds of poppies, larkspur, and wildflowers can also be planted now for a riot of color in spring.
Dig and Store Caladiums
If you wish to save caladium tubers for another year, cut off the tops and dig them before the first frost. Allow them to dry in a well-ventilated but shaded area. After 7 to 10 days, remove the leaves and dirt and store the tubers in dry peat moss, vermiculite, or other similar material so that the tubers don't touch each other. Store them in an area where temperatures won't drop below 50F.