The Other Way: Organic Horticulture and the Landscape at Villa Finale

For roughly 100 years we have been using synthetic, chemically based products to care for our landscapes, gardens, and farms.  There is another way, the original way, the way that nature intended for these operations to work … The Organic Way.  Since Villa Finale was gifted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2004 we have decided to adopt this method for the care of the landscape. 

Composting bins at Villa Finale.

You might ask yourself, “Why would they choose such a radical method to care for such an important part of their story?”  The answer: We feel that it is safer for the overall environment and that it works.  I want to give you a brief description of Organic Horticulture, or at least how it affects our yards and landscapes and then give you a little peek at what we are doing here at Villa Finale to become a 100% Organic Landscape and why we have chosen to do so.

Organic gardening provides your plants with all of the nutrients that the synthetics do, but in a much more efficient form that is safer for our environment.  Think of your yard as an ecosystem and there is a food chain to that ecosystem.  Even the smallest guy on the totem pole provides benefits to the one who relies on it for food.  Some of these micro-organisms have created symbiotic relationships with the plants that live in our yards and help them to thrive.  Take the mycorrhizal fungi for instance.  They enter into a relationship with the root systems for most of the plants that live in our gardens.  This is a relationship that is beneficial to both parties involved.  The fungi are provided with food from the exudate of the plant and the plant’s root system is greatly expanded, plus the presence of the fungi increases the plant’s ability to take in necessary nutrients.  The existence of these fungi also increases the soils ability to hold oxygen and water.  This is of great concern to those of us here in Texas that experience drought conditions almost yearly.

Old composting bins at the site.

The list goes on and on.  Not all organisms are good, but they are food for someone else.  The point is if one aspect of the system disappears it affects another and so on down the line like a house of cards.  When we use the synthetic chemicals to treat our yards it starts to take a toll on the ecosystem that makes up a healthy yard.  Eventually, it will significantly reduce, or even kill off, whole sections of the ecosystem.  In essence, even though you may see a fairly instant positive effect from these products, they are causing long-term damage.  It is not irreversible though.  There are proven processes that can reinvigorate even the most desolate landscape. 

Setting up an organic landscape care plan does take an investment, both in time and monetarily, to set up.  In the end though, you will find that over time you are spending less time and money on the care of you landscape, garden, or farm with often improved results.  Please stay tuned to this blog for this is just the first of five in a series posts on Organic Horticulture and Landscaping.  Blog topics still to come will be: Weed Control, Compost, Compost Tea, and Pest Control.  So please stay tuned for the future blogs, previously mentioned, to learn about different aspects of Organic Horticulture and Landscaping and how we at Villa Finale have chosen to use these effective tools.

Chris Roddy

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