Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
No poisons are necessary. Try washing off the aphids with a strong jet of water. Do this in the morning so the plants have time to dry off during the day. If that doesn't work, use insecticidal soap mixed in a small spray bottle. Another option is to release ladybugs, which are eager consumers of aphids.
Trim Overgrown Vines
Vines such as wisteria, ivy, trumpet vine, and clematis will escape into trees or buildings if not kept under control. Cut off long stringers that are headed for trouble. Check vining plants every few weeks throughout the growing season. They are a sneaky lot.
Provide Water for Birds
Birds need water for washing and drinking. You will be amazed at how many insects a hungry sparrow can devour. Think of it as your reward for setting out a bird bath. Keep the water clean and fresh, and place a rock in the center so smaller birds can enjoy a bath, too.
Go Easy On Nitrogen Fertilizer on Tomatoes
Don't overfertilize tomatoes with nitrogen. The result can be blossom drop and no more tomatoes. Use liquid fish emulsion or half strength, chemical fertilizer to keep your tomatoes producing through the end of summer. Water deeply and infrequently for the best flavor.
Prune and Shape Rhododendrons and Azaleas
This is the ideal time to prune and shape rhododendrons and azaleas before they begin to set their buds for next spring. Cut rangy plants back to bare wood if necessary. Fertilize the plants with a high acid fertilizer one month after pruning to encourage maximum bloom.