The weeds have stopped growing, the annuals no longer need deadheading and the bulbs likely have been planted. The colors of autumn are everywhere, but soon the holidays will consume us. Before they do, bundle up for these end-of-season chores, and put the garden to bed for its long winter’s nap.
1. Cut the grass one last time — shorter than usual to 1 1/2 inches.
2. Pot up amaryllis and paperwhites. They’ll bloom indoors in time for the holidays. Instructions at newsday.com/gardening101
3. For more December blooms, keep Christmas cactus in bright light for 10 hours daily, and in total darkness at 55-60 degrees for 14 hours nightly.
4. Winterize water gardens and cover koi ponds with netting.
5. Harvest winter squash after vines die back but before frost hits.
6. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Set clocks back an hour to return to Standard time.
7. Prune (only) weak and broken branches from trees to avoid winter damage.
8. It’s Election Day. Make your choice at the polls, then choose bulbs to plant in the garden.
9. Monitor houseplants for spider mites and scale. If you spot any, treat immediately.
10. Rake up leaves — and go ahead, let the kids jump in them — then add to the compost pile.
11. It’s Veterans Day. Raise a flag in the garden to honor those who have served.
12. A mouse can squeeze through a hole the width of a pencil; inspect foundations and crawl spaces, and seal gaps and cracks.
13. Tie upright junipers and arborvitaes loosely with twine to protect against snow and ice damage.
14. If you see any champagne-colored blobs on tree trunks, under branches or patio furniture, pry them off with a sharp knife and throw them in the trash. They’re gypsy moth egg masses.
15. Empty planters and wash with a 90/10 water/bleach solution. Store clay pots indoors (they will crack if left in the cold).
16. Clean and stock bird feeders, and consider a de-icer for the birdbath.
17. Clean up around roses, fruit trees, lilacs and others that have exhibited disease, and discard debris in the trash to ward off reinfection next year.
18. Drain hoses and store them for the winter. But leave one accessible for watering evergreens and newly planted trees.
19. Inspect for viburnum leaf beetles after leaves fall. Remove twigs and branches that have egg cases attached.
20. Check deer fences for gaps and repair if necessary.
21. Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
22. Prepare a bed now for planting peas in March.
23. Plant evergreens, opting for balled-and-burlapped over potted when possible.
24. Happy Thanksgiving! Work off your big holiday dinner with a fig tree-wrapping workout. (View my how-to video at newsday.com/gardening101.)
25. Protect broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons from winter dehydration by spraying with an anti-desiccant when temperatures are above 40 degrees.
26. Turn over the vegetable patch to disrupt the life cycle of pests that are getting cozy in there.
27. Dig up and store cannas, colocasias, dahlias, caladiums and gladioli after they’ve been blackened by frost.
28. Dig and pot up chives and parsley, and grow in the kitchen by a sunny window.
29. Cut asparagus foliage to the ground. Mulch over with 2 inches of well-rotted manure.
30. If you’re planning to buy a live Christmas tree, dig a hole for it now and fill it with straw or leaves until you bring it home.