As Labor Day has now past the feeling of fall is growing ever stronger. Each day the night comes sooner and lasts longer and as that light fades the plants begin closing down in preparation for the end of the growing season. During this time of the year there are many things you can do in the garden. Here's a few things to keep in mind for your fall garden!
Fall Basil Tips
This time of year your basil production should be in full force! Keep pinching back the stem tips to prevent or slow the flower formation. Once flowers begin to form the leaf production diminishes. The flowers of basil are edible so feel free to chow down on them as well as the leaves! The flowers can make an interesting garnish in salads.
Or You Could Gather Basil Seed!
If you want to collect seed go ahead and let it flower. Collect the seed once the seed stalks turn brown and save in a cool dry place for spring. Basil seed does not need stratification. You may end with volunteer seedlings if you let your basil go to seed in the garden.
Plant Fall Color Other Than Mums!
It's also the time of year when fall mums come to market but you should consider alternatives to avoid looking like everyone else. Check out asters or pick something with a fall color scheme of yellow, orange, or red. That's what I did recently when I bought some Rudbeckia hirta and Coreopsis. Both are great plants and tend to bloom prolifically through the summer but can be kept going into fall by deadheading the spent blooms.
Deal With Those Tomato Harvests
For as long as your garden is producing tomatoes and the plants are healthy keep harvesting! Here in Tennessee I've had tomatoes at the end of October before the frost took them. Our usual first frost date is around October 15th and anything beyond that is a gift.
If your tomato plants have begun to succumb to diseases remove them as needed. I recommend not putting tomato plants into the compost bin due to the disease they can spread. Most tomato diseases can subsist in the soil or in compost and would then be spread into other garden beds once you use that compost. If you have a fall burn pile toss the diseased plants into it and then use the ash in your compost or garden beds.
It's also not a bad idea to save some tomato seed from your favorite tomatoes. How do I save tomato seeds? I typically slice a tomato, scrape out a few seeds, and dry them on a paper towel. Then I take the tomato and put it on a sandwich with mayo! (That's my favorite part!)
Other gardeners use the fermenting method which works better since it can reduce some disease issues and removes growth inhibitors but is also more labor intensive and if you're like me time is often of short supply.