November 4, 2010 at 9:18 a.m.
I finished planting my garlic and I will want to put straw over the area to help protect them for the winter. Whether it is garlic, strawberries, perennial beds, or anything that you want to cover, be sure that the ground is frozen before you cover. The idea is not to keep the cold air out but rather to keep the frozen ground from thawing too quickly in the spring. If you have a choice of straw or leaves for a ground cover use straw because the hollow stalk of straw is a better insulation than leaves that tend to pack down.
Those who cut Heritage raspberries to the ground for a fall crop only need to wait until the ground is frozen before cutting them. The reason is that if the ground is loose the roots may be disturbed leading to the possibility of winter damage. I still get questions about pruning summer bearing raspberries. It's okay to prune out the dead canes because they are the ones that produced berries this past summer. I would wait until spring to finish pruning summer bearing raspberries. By then you can see those canes that have fallen over, cracked, or broke off.
Many gardeners had a very poor summer for their vegetables. Some gardeners put in a fall planting of beets, carrots, spinach, etc. Many say that their fall crop was so good it almost made them forget about summer. Those that planted spinach in August have harvested a couple of cuttings and will cover the spinach for the winter. Next spring it will be the first crop harvested. Onions for storing did not do well at all this past season. Not only did they not get large, but also they didn't harden-off properly. Many of us need to keep sorting through them and use those with soft spots first. Hopefully, only the best will be moved to the basements or root cellars.
Depending upon when this article comes out and the late fall weather, there may still be time to plant trees and shrubs. There have been many ads in the papers telling about the deals from nurseries and garden centers to reduce their inventory before winter sets in. If you do take advantage of some of these deals, be sure you get good planting instructions from where you buy.