Chaparral garden

Chaparral gardens are usually found in inland areas where there is very low humidity, lots of sun and high summer temperatures. Most chaparral areas -- whether found in California, the four corner states, Texas, Australia, Europe or any other area -- experience relatively warm temperatures even in the winter. As a result, most chaparral gardening can be done year round.

Winter is a time for growing hardy vegetables in the chaparral. This is a good time to grow artichokes, anything in the crucifer family: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage and more as well as fava beans and all kinds of peas. Most of these plants can handle an occasional frost and some even become sweeter in the cool. You can also let your vegetable garden rest for the winter or grow a green crop over the top that you will dig back into the soil as a green manure. This way your soil will be in great shape to accept new spring plantings. Other things you can do to get a jump on your spring vegetable gardening is to plant seeds indoors so slower-growing seedlings like tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and eggplants can be a few inches tall by the time it's safe to plant them outdoors. If weeds or soil insects have been a problem for you this past season in your garden, you might want to leave your garden unplanted and cover it with black plastic to let the sun sterilize the area. This method can cut down on problems for next year's crops.

When it comes to planting trees, natives and drought-tolerant plants in chaparral areas temperatures and soils can vary. Due to hills and canyons, terrain makes for a lot of varied microclimates in many chaparral areas. That means that you will find plants that do well in one area can be difficult in a location only a small distance away. It also means that some areas are likely to freeze harder than others. If you live where hard freezes are likely during the winter months, it is best to get your hardy plants into the ground early enough that they can get their roots well settled and extended before the soil gets cold. Most trees and some other drought-tolerant plants that go dormant or semi-dormant are not as much at risk since they are snoozing and making minimal demands on their root systems.

With the cooler weather, autumn and winter are ideal times to take on building projects. Plan on occasional interruptions from rain. After rains, avoid walking or working on wet to keep from compressing the soil and forcing out the helpful air particles. Otherwise, winter is a perfect time to work in comfortably cool temperatures and is often a good time to find professional garden help more available than during the busier springtime season. You might want to get started now on designing or redesigning your landscape or breaking ground for that new structure you always wanted, be it a swimming pool, barbecue area, new paths, a patio, raised gardens or any other new addition for the landscape. This is the perfect time to enjoy gardening while getting your landscape in shape for next year.