Autumn has come at last and with it cooler temperatures. This makes it easier for you and your plants to endure some garden chores that will reap rewards now and next spring.
If you want to plant new trees or shrubs, now is an excellent time. The cooler weather encourages new roots to grow before winter sets in. Water well after planting and mulch with chopped leaves or a commercial mulch.
Houseplants that vacationed outside this summer will need to be readied to return indoors. Spray down the foliage with a fine spray from the garden hose or wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth. Use an insecticidal soap to rid the plants of any insects that would hitch a ride inside. Clean any dirt from the outside of the pots.
You may notice green caterpillars on your cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. They can be treated with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), applying as directed on the label.
Pansies and violas will bloom better in the winter if they are planted early enough to let their roots get established. Sow poppies, larkspur, Johnny-jump-ups, bachelor's buttons and Sweet William directly into prepared garden beds before the first frost. This will give them an early start the following spring and will produce stronger plants than if you waited to sow them.
If you have flowers with seedheads such as purple coneflowers or Black-eyed Susans, wait to cut them down until the birds have had a chance to eat the seeds. Keep birdbaths filled with clean water; birds need water all year round and can give you lots of enjoyment watching them.