Rancho La Puerta and its surrounding landscape are located in a biodiversity hotspot, meaning it is a region that is both rich in biodiversity and is in significant danger of destruction. The preciousness of this natural landscape is reflected in the beauty and quality of the gardening at Rancho La Puerta. Guests feel as though they are visiting a natural oasis where native live oaks line walking paths and wildflower fields blend into the surrounding chaparral. Mt. Kuchumaa is “the exalted high place” of the Kumeyaay tribe. In their eyes, Kuchumaa was the womb of the world, the place from which creation sprang. Only shamans were allowed on the summit.
Our efforts to protect this landscape include:
Our Garden Team: Rancho La Puerta employs a large staff of full time gardeners.
A large on-site nursery provides most of the plants used for landscaping. Professional botanists run the nursery and are skilled at specialized seed germination and crossbreeding techniques.
The majority of landscape maintenance is done using hand tools, with the exception of lawn mowers, tillers and some saws.
Gardens are fertilized using composted organic matter from garden trimmings and solid waste from the waste treatment facility and the composting toilets. Minimum commercial nitrogen fertilizers are used for lawn care.
Natural Pest Management: Flowering plants and fruit trees attract bats, birds and beneficial insects that provide natural pest management.
There is minimal to no use of chemicals to maintain Rancho La Puerta grounds; when absolutely necessary some low-impact products are used for pest control.
We use natural alternatives to standard insecticides. If we need to take on aphids or other “leaf munchers,” we opt for insecticidal soap sprays that suffocate the bugs. “Safer” is a widely used brand available at most garden centers, or you can make your own recipe—just use soap, not detergent.
We use alternatives to herbicides by keeping undesirable plants out of areas using mulches or via hand weeding.
Vertebrate pests such as snakes and raccoons are controlled using live-traps. Once caught they are moved to another property outside of the Rancho La Puerta grounds.
Migrating Birds: Migrating birds depend on the lush habitat at Rancho La Puerta as a stopover point where they can “refuel” during migration.
Plants: Our botanists developed a unique variety of foxglove that thrives in the soil and climate conditions found at the ranch. The plant was cultivated over several growing cycles and is now a hardy variety used in landscaping at the Ranch.
Palm tree fronds are not trimmed, instead they are left on the trees to provide habitat for bats and other vertebrates.
There are approximately 200 different plant species on the grounds. These include flowers, trees, cacti, shrubs, herbs, water plants (in fountains), and grasses.
We leave much of our landscape, even around our facilities, relatively undisturbed (no major raking or clean-up of stems, leaf litter, dried stalks, etc.) over the dormant seasons. This gives beneficial insects a safe place to overwinter, as well as a healthy quail population.
Two local invasive species, eucalyptus and Carrizo are harvested, removed and then used again to create garden structures, furniture and building interiors.
Creek Beds: Our staff worked with an environmental consulting firm to design a vegetative stream embankment for the creek that flows through Tres Estrellas organic garden. By avoiding concrete channelization they preserved the natural ambiance of the creek bed and helped maintain a healthier riparian system.
Community: At the end of the Christmas season, Rancho La Puerta brings their wood chipper into the town of Tecate to chip the Christmas trees from which they make mulch for the grounds. Community members that bring their trees are offered either a bag of mulch made from trees or a certificate to participate in a landscaping tour and instruction on eco-friendly gardening and landscaping at Rancho La Puerta.