- Plant new fall bulbs so they develop roots before the ground freezes.
- Harvest corn, potatoes, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and strawberries before a killing frost.
- If tomato vines are covered with green fruit, pull up whole plants and hang them in a basement or garage until fruits ripen.
- After onion tops have fallen over, dig the bulbs and let them cure on the soil surface for about a week before you store them.
- After harvesting, spread compost over the soil surface.
- Rake leaves and clean up plant debris, then add them to the compost pile.
To-Do List for Zone 4
- On the first of the month, plant spinach for overwintering.
- Use up any remaining compost in your bins to make room for the leaves you’ll soon add.
- Dig up and store tender bulbs and tubers, such as cannas and dahlias.
- Pick the seedpods and heads of any open-pollinated flowers you want to grow again next year; store the seeds in a cool, dry spot.
- Set out pansies, mums, and kale for later fall color.
- Plant bulbs and garlic in midmonth.
- Get ready to protect tender plants from early frost with row covers and blankets.
- Look for dry pods on bean plants; save the seed for planting next season.
To-Do List for Zone 5
- Sow seed of next year's biennial flowers, such as forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica), sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), and foxglove.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs.
- Dig up tender dahlias, cannas, caladium, and gladiolus before frost hits; store tubers and bulbs in a cool, dry spot.
- Start spinach and kale under row covers or in a coldframe for tasty winter salads.
- Still time to patch bare spots in the lawn—cover grass seed lightly with compost.
- Plant perennials to take advantage of cool weather and rainfall.
To-Do List for Zone 6
- Get fall compost cooking with the last of your grass clippings, spent plants, and leaves.
- As garden beds empty, sow quick-growing cover crops like winter rye.
- Sow spinach midmonth for spring harvest.
- Work spring-flowering bulbs into perennial beds.
- Plant garlic by month's end for harvest next June.
- Dig up, divide, and replant clumps of overgrown perennials.
- Early this month, sow seeds of mixed greens for fall and winter salads.
- Harvest young lettuce planted in August.
- Snip off long stems of parsley and freeze them in a bag or jar for winter use.
- Trim evergreen hedges (such as holly and privet) on the first cool day.
- Set out pansies in a spot that will receive full sun all winter.
- Harvest peanuts as soon as shells become hard.
To-Do List for Zone 8
- Plant transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale; surround them with a thick mulch to cool the soil.
- Direct-seed spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, parsley, turnips, and kohlrabi.
- Plant pansies, stock (Matthiola incana), snapdragons, sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolor), and pinks (Dianthus spp.).
- Apply a 1⁄2-inch layer of compost to areas of the lawn that are susceptible to brown patch; apply organic fertilizer to the entire lawn at the end of the month.
To-Do List for Zone 9
- Plant winter lettuce, peas, carrots, cole crops, and Asian greens.
- Harvest winter squash and pumpkins before frost, when their skin is hard enough to resist pressure from your thumbnail.
- Set out transplants of calendula, primroses, larkspur (Consolida ambigua), snapdragons, bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus), stock (Matthiola incana), and pansies.
- Refrigerate spring bulbs for 6 weeks to plant later this fall.
- Pick ‘Bartlett' pears for ripening indoors, but allow Asian pears and ‘Seckel' pears to ripen on the tree.
- Protect grapes from birds and wasps by covering the ripening clusters with brown paper lunch bags.
To-Do List for Zone 10
- Prune poinsettias for holiday bloom.
- As grasshopper numbers die down, plant tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa), gloriosa lilies, amaryllis, and other subtropical bulbs and rhizomes.
- Plant okra. It’s your last chance of the season.
- Seed cucurbits and herbs, and set out transplants of tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
- Repair or replace drip irrigation lines.
Work in soil amendments, including compost, bonemeal, and greensand.
Keep Reading: Your Autumn To-Do (and Don't) List