Celebrate hostas. I understand that they are edible when small — and make an acceptable veggie wrap — but right now they are so glorious in the landscape, I would never use them for lunch. Yearly care is as simple as adding some compost or generic 10-10-10 fertilizer around the roots, and making sure they are in the right place. Basic rule of thumb: The lighter the foliage color, the more sun they can tolerate. But never full sun! Bright light in the heat of summer makes them look like somebody hit them with a blowtorch. Prune away the scorched parts till you run out of leaves, then plant annuals to take up the vacant spots.
Have a compost adventure. Compost-making is a fine art, and a perfect task for the OCD gardener: the correct order of layering; the exact proportion of carbon to nitrogen; the precise amount of air, moisture and turning over that makes micro-critters flourish, create heat, and break garden and kitchen scraps down into rich soil. The rest of us just sort of throw everything together and hope for the best. But there is one rule we must all follow — eventually we need to clean it out. If we have done due diligence and turned it occasionally, this is a simple task and involves raking out the contents, throwing the big chunks and recognizable pieces into the bottom of the next bin, and distributing the soft, fluffy organic matter around the garden. If you haven’t done a thing since you started adding stuff to the pile last year, you need to remove the top layer (most of which is totally identifiable) and hack away at what’s left, breaking up the chunks enough to distribute around the planting beds, swearing to do a better job next year.
Weed, water, mulch. ‘Nuff said.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).