Welcome to my Sustainable Urban Garden

My garden is a work in progress, always growing and changing within itself.

My gardens include many herbal beds, raised vegetable beds, raised "citrus heights" citrus tree bed, berry beds, fruit trees, grape arbor, rose beds and many perennial flower beds with annuals too. My greenhouse is still in the transformation stage,
as well as some planting areas.
Enjoy your journey through my gardens, I do!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I believe that Spring is finally here!!!

At least it seems that many of the flowers believe that Spring is here.
For several years I have purchased Passiflora incarnata (passion flower) vines from reputable nurseries. I have wanted to grow one on the back side of a fence facing west. Every year they have died. I never saw a flower unless the plant came with one.

So, this last year I purchased another, but this time I put it in a pot and set the pot on the north wall of my house, because plants in pots can't handle as much sun as when in the ground if they are sensitive to too much sun at all. I was just out looking around and noticed that the vine that has crawled up the side of the house now has flowers. It has also traveled onto a trellis which holds an orange trumpet vine (another story). To my surprise there are about five flowers and more to come. Here is a picture I took of one of the passion flower blooms. I am a happy gardener!

So what do we know about Passiflora incarnata, commonly called passion flowers?  Well, they don't like my west fence! They are also known as a maypop.

The maypop is a common roadside weed found throughout the Southeastern U.S and also Argentina and Brazil.  It derived this early common name because it just seems to 'pop' out of the ground in May. They grow in USDA zones 5-9, but should be planted in protected locations and mulched heavily from severe cold. Top growth can be killed back from frost. They need partial to full sun (not full sun in Sacramento though), and will adapt themselves to most well-drained soils. During the growing season the soil should be kept evenly moist for better flowering and growth. The flowers range around 3" in diameter and are very unique and quite beautiful. We also know that they start blooming in May! 

The vines can easily grow up to 15 feet in one season. (that is good because I want mine to end up along the railing of a two-story deck) They grow well on a fence or trellis, and they will scramble over shrubs and trees. They produce small fruits in the shape of an oval berry, similar to a kiwi fruit, called granadilla or water lemon. The fruit is edible, but it is pretty seedy. I have friends that eat them though. You can also make it into a jelly. 

The passion flower fruit is also a food source for several species of butterfly and their larvae.

Best of all, the passion flower is a naturally grown medicinal herb, in the treatment of insomnia and nervousness. It is also used as a sedative in nervous disorders (including gastrointestional complaints of nervous origin), difficulties in sleeping, and anxiety or restlessness. Passion flower reduces spasms and depresses the central nervous system. The aerial parts of the plant are gathered during fruiting season and are dried for herbal uses.

Passion flower has a tranquilizing effect, including mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects. In studies conducted since the 1930's, its mode of action has been found to be different than that of most sedative drugs (sleeping pills), thus making it a non-addictive herb to promote relaxation.

The sedative effect of Passion flower has made it popular for treating a variety of ailments, including nervousness and insomnia. Research had indicated that passion flower has a complex activity on the central nervous system, which is responsible for its overall tranquilizing effects. Also, it has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the body, including the digestive system, promoting digestion.

Also, there are no reported side effects for passion flower. However, it is not recommended for use in pregnant women or children under the age of two. 

(And in self protection - here is my disclaimer: This is not medical advice, but herbal information that you can acquire on the internet or from herbal practitioners. Anyone already taking a sedative or tranquilizer would need to consult a health care professional before using passion flower.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring has been very slow in coming . . .

Here are some spring pictures.

The sky has looked much like this for much of our spring. There is a Kite in flight. He/she has a huge nest up in the top of that tree. At least we have gotten a normal years worth of rain. The problem is that it has been spread out over so many months that are normally warm with sunny blue skies.  Yes, it rained again today.
Here is evidence of so much rain that it seems like fall with all the debris of leaves, flower petals and nature's prunings.
This year we have three colors of Swiss Chard growing in the garden. On the left is the white, with red in the center, and the yellowy-orange on the right.  I love Swiss chard in steamed veggie dishes. They are new plants this year, but my last planting of it lasted at least four years. I called it grandfather chard!