We’re caught in the in-between period. There are things that could be done in the yard and garden, and there are things that it’s too early to do.

While some trees in the Midwest have just about shed their leaves, others are holding tight. Some, like the sassafras and sugar maples, have been ablaze with reds, oranges and yellows.

We’re caught in the in-between period. There are things that could be done in the yard and garden, and there are things that it’s too early to do.

You could be raking leaves every day for the next month, mulching and/or bagging them. Or you could wait and hope some will magically disappear. You could hope for a good rainstorm, which would drive many leaves off trees and shrubs but make it likely they’ll pack down and be more difficult to dispose of.

There still are some things to do in this in-between mode.

Plant garlic: Fall is one of the best times to plant garlic in the Midwest, though you can succeed with spring plantings. Yet the bulbs and resulting cloves are bigger and more flavorful with fall planting.

Most of the store garlic will work. You might opt for some farmers market bulbs, choosing those that are big, heavy, firm and appear to have many cloves. Take a whiff. Garlic should be pungent. If you can’t smell anything, the garlic may not have much flavor (or your nose is stuffed up).

Peel the outer layer and separate the cloves into individual sections. Do NOT peel these. Keep that skin on to protect the clove from soil organisms that might attack the exposed flesh, especially those microorganisms of Italian descent.

The first step is to remember which is the top and bottom of the cloves. Like all bulbs, the top needs to be planted up. Otherwise, the garlic will rot in the ground over the winter.

The flat end usually is the bottom. Plant it down. If you can’t distinguish between the flat and pointed ends, plant the clove on its side. That’s always a good method for any bulb such as the wrinkled cookie-like spring anemone.

Any garlic that you have lying around and is sprouting is also game for planting.

You don’t have to dig a large or wide hole. Plant garlic about an inch or two deep in loose, rich organic soil. You can go the soldiers-in-a-row route, plant them in large masses, or between flowers in your border. Make sure you leave about three inches between each clove you plant.

The biggest problems may be squirrels that are looking for places to store nuts for the winter. Those tree rats have a sixth sense about loosened soil and may dig in the same area, pushing the garlic clove out and storing an acorn or hickory instead.

Water and wait. You should see growth in a couple of weeks. Don’t worry about them for the winter. They may die back but unless they are completely surrounded by ice for the winter, new growth will appear next spring, and by midsummer you should be harvesting the crop.

Keep watering newly planted trees, shrubs, turfgrass and spring-flowering bulbs.

Of all the plants, evergreens are the most sensitive to dry soils. Unlike our shade trees and shrubs, which lose their leaves during the winter and are essentially dormant, evergreens will continue to lose water through their leaves or needles during the winter.

If the winter is sunny, cold and windy, more water will be lost. If there is little water in the soil to replace what’s sucked out by northern winds, the foliage turns brown and brittle. In worst-case scenarios, the buds and stems start drying out spelling the death of the plant.

Any of the broadleaf evergreens from boxwood to rhododendrons to hollies deserve a thorough soaking at least once every two weeks until the ground freezes.

Do the same for any tree or shrub planted this year no matter what size or when it was planted. There’s a tendency to think that a month of care is all that’s really necessary.

Treat the tree or shrub like a baby. How long do you keep feeding and watering the child until they can do it on their own? Probably two years (though some will be saying that they’ve been doing it for 30 years).

As soon as possible, dig tender bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, elephant ears (colocasia and alocasia) and caladiums.

They might not have been touched by a frost yet, but they soon will.

Allow the plants to dry a day in a protected garage or basement and then cut off all the foliage about an inch above ground level.

Keep the bulbs separate. Some people store them in plastic bins with loose lids to allow air circulation. Others opt for plastic bags shoved under a workbench or basement stairs.

Check the bulbs carefully during the winter to make sure they’re not shriveling too much. If they are, sprinkle with water.

David Robson is a specialist with University of Illinois Extension. For more gardening information go to www.extension.uiuc.edu/mg.