My children and I went out to the garden yesterday after our big Fall Work Party. It was an extremely warm Sunday afternoon and we had some serious work to do. We were quite surprised that of our summer /warm plants, the green beans and pole beans were still growing well. Their pods were large and thick, thicker than the diameter of a pencil but with no seeds in them whatsoever! We filled up half of a five gallon bucket with these wonderful beans. Our patty pan squash plant needed to be pulled out of the ground but as I yanked the large plant up the from its roots, 3-4 decent sized summer squash clung to its stem. The eggplants were pulled up, the rest of the tomatoes, the basil and some marigolds.
Leaves and straw are a gardeners best friend in the Fall, they added wonderful organic matter to your soil as well as provide an organic blanket for fall sown crops, such as garlic, leeks and onions. Compost is wonderful added in the fall as it gives fodder for organic life over the winter months.
The best thing you can do to prevent disease for next spring is to cleanup all the fallen fruit and leaves from this year's crop. Now is the time as the leaves fall off your perennials, to spray them down with a good organic horticultural oil. The oil smothers insects that might overwinter on your plants. Fall is a wonderful time to plant bulbs if you enjoy flowers in your garden. Lilies are my absolute favorite. I've also read that if you want to get a jump start on your flowers in the spring, you can sow many types the seeds in the fall, as it imitates plant's natural behavior.
Other than that, I tried to take a minimalist approach to winter gardening. I like to tidy up, protect and amended, then sit at home pouring over seed catalogs in January, February and March until I decide to put on my gardening boots and head out to see what Spring has sprung.