Get ready for vacation. If you’re planning to go away for a long weekend, there are a few things you can do to take care of business in the garden while you’re gone. This week’s forecast, though, is pretty mild. Just remember to pick your zucchinis and half-ripe tomatoes before you leave, and take them with you. Vegetables need a vacation, too.

Research solar pumps. I’m not exactly in love with extension cords, and, quite frankly, the idea of running them all over my yard when it rains every other day makes me more than a little nervous. What’s your experience with solar pumps for bird baths, fountains, and small ponds? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Admire the cicada. My daughter recently said it would be worth an extra $20,000 to buy a house near a park where she could listen to the cicadas. I think I raised her right! Other people are not so kind and liken the cicadas to hordes of locusts. Are cicadas harmful? What does a cicada eat? While they are underground, they suck juices from the roots of trees and grasses, but not to the extent that they do any damage. As adults they eat very little, as their main purpose in life is just to climb to the highest point they can find, make a lot of noise to attract a mate, then take the giant leap of faith that the two sound-bound lovers will meet in midair. This is especially important because they don’t necessarily have the energy left to climb another tree to give it yet another try.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( and winner of the AHS Great American Gardener Jane L. Taylor award.