It's a dreary day outside, but the rain is much needed so we can't complain. The sunflowers, which all summer followed the sun's daily path with upturned blooms, now look sad out the window. Their heads are drooping, so heavy with seed that the stalks can barely support them. In fact, the weight of the seeds and some wind has already toppled a few of the largest. While I'll leave quite a few for the birds and other wildlife, I'll cut many to use as supplemental food for the animals, especially our birds, over the long winter. Also, I'll dry a bunch and save the seeds so we can have more golden beauties adorning the outside rows of the cornfield next year!
The gardening season at this point has changed from growing to harvesting. My herb garden is a great example. My cilantro did poorly through this summer's weather, producing few usable leaves and bolting straight into flower & seed production. I let it go, taking up its space in the garden, and my reward has been a bumper crop of seeds which I've been harvesting lately. I miss lots too, but it's alright since the patch is dedicated to that plant and it saves me the trouble of replanting in the spring! The seeds are the spice coriander, and is called for in many Mexican or Chinese dishes. I love this plant, it is like a 2 for 1 special! Also, I've gotten lots of dill, parsley and chive seeds.
Amazingly, we haven't had a frost yet although it's looking likely that mid-week that will be coming our way. About the only plants that will really be affected that are still growing strong are my basils- this year I grew a regular green basil and a delicious lime variety! I've been freezing or drying them in preparation, because once they are frosted they turn black and are unusable. However, I'm looking forward to frost for a few reasons...the gnats have made it nearly unbearable to be outside recently, and none of the repellents seem to discourage them from swarming one's head and flying into one's eyes. The frost will bring an end to that, which will make like outside more pleasant, even if it means putting on an extra shirt at times! Also, frost is necessary to bring out the colors of my multicolored ornamental corn. I planted the open pollinated, heirloom variety Earth Tones Dent last year, and was able to save the biggest, nicest and most colorful ears to replant this year. I planted lots more than I grew last year, and so far it looks like it did very well. Checking an ear or two, they are definitely colored, but the true beauty won't show until after a good killing frost. I love to decorate for fall, so I'm anxious to have that happen. We will have some at the store too...I've planted enough to have lots of beautiful extras!