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October is the month of unpredictable weather. We tolerate cold wet days, enjoy unseasonably warm ones, brace ourselves against days of hi winds, and button up when early snowfall arrives. We can take it because we are tough Canadian and too proud to move away. As changeable as the weather can be, we are well aware that the constant cold days of winter will soon be here to stay and there’s work to be done before that.
The best storage for root crops is in the ground (unfrozen of course). We can’t quite duplicate the perfect conditions that cool moist soil makes for storing these vegetables. It’s a gamble. The longer we leave them in the garden, the higher the risk of digging them in the snow. My point is, depending on your risk averseness, leave them as long as you can.
Once everything is harvested and removed from the garden, it’s good to loosen the soil and work in the garden organic matter. If you had any diseased plants over the summer, dispose of the debris. Working it back in could re-introduce the problem next summer as many of the spores can successfully overwinter. If you are a composter, spread the rotted compost over the garden and work that in as well. I know some folks who also like to incorporate some low concentration fertilizer at the same time. Once this is done, your soil should be very malleable next spring and will have a good start-up nutrient base.
There’s a continuous controversy whether it’s best to transplant perennials in spring or fall. Plants do have a preference but if care is taken not to damage the roots significantly and allow a 4-week window before freeze-up, fall works fine for most. After flowering, the plant stores up nutrients in its roots for over-wintering, giving the plant a good start next spring. As the perennials age, they can loose vigor, die out in the middle or just get too big for the space they were planted in. These are good reasons for dividing the roots and transplanting or sharing with a gardening friend. If you are researching on the Internet, be aware of the source of the information.
Transplanting can be done later the further south you go. Keep in mind the 4-week window before freeze-up. Peony and Hosta are best moved in September but you can get away with October if necessary. Lily and Daylily prefer fall as does the popular Karl Forrester. Iris on the other hand likes a spring move after flowering. Take pictures now of other changes you would like to make next spring. That way you won’t forget and can work those details into your spring planning sessions during the deep of winter months.