Putting the garden to bed for the winter is mostly a matter of cleaning and covering up. As fall progresses and temperatures drop, plants that aren’t killed by frost prepare for dormancy.
Now this is the time to clear out all the blackened stems and foliage of annuals and vegetables to prevent the possibility of harboring disease over the winter. This decaying foliage is also a popular place for destructive insects to keep their eggs during the colder months, so clean it out.
There’s still a lot going on under the soil until it freezes, so it’s important to spread new mulch now. A thicker winter layer will protect plants until spring. In fact, consider converting those fallen leaves into mulch instead of burning or disposing of them.