Ever since I first visited the medicinal plant garden in Chicago I've wanted to create a garden where I could grow many herbs, annuals and perennials that are used in alternative medicines. The idea of being able to create all-natural remedies from ingredients I'd grow and harvest right in my own garden really appeals to the urban homesteader inside me. It is a shame that with every successive generation we move further and further away from growing pharmacies in our gardens like our ancestors did, heck our grandparents did.
When I heard of the BBC Two documentary series, Grow Your Own Drugs, by ethnobotanist James Wong that has him trying natural remedies on members of the public, I wished it aired here in America. It hasn't been picked up or copied by American broadcasters but fortunately his book, Grow Your Own Drugs, is being published in America this month and I've got my hands on a copy of this international best-selling book.
Grow Your Own Drugs isn't as nefarious as it sounds, it is all perfectly legal stuff and just teaches you how to use the various healing properties of many plants that you can grow in your own garden. This book is set up like a cook book with a list of ingredient and equipment (mortar and pestle, glass jars-simple things you probably already have) that you'll use often and should have on hand. Nothing seems terribly expensive and can be found at your local home goods store and health foods store.
Grow Your Own Drugs teaches you how to make things like teas, creams, lotions, balms, gargles and cough syrups for common ailments from plants you can grow in your garden. It guides you through creating natural remedies for things like digestive disorders, skin complaints, aches & pains and "female problems." The 60+ recipes are easy to follow and most consist of only a handful of ingredients. If you don't have a lot of space for growing the plants that make up the ingredients you stick to growing the Top 10 medicinal herbs and source the others from places like your local farmers market, health food store or a regular grocery store. The last third of the book lists the Top 100 medicinal plants by fruit, vegetables, trees & shrubs, roots, herbs and flowers and leaves. The suggested plants section contains some information on growing but it mostly lists the beneficial properties of the plants and the growing conditions and times of years you could forage for them. With a few exceptions, the majority of these plants are plants you can find in your local garden center or grow from seed. Now that I know that lady's mantle can be made into a salve to stop bleeding in cuts and wounds or to ease itchy skin I'm going to have to stop letting the dogs pee on my plants.
Grow Your Own Drugs is a pretty cool book and one I'd recommend to gardeners who would like to dabble with making their own remedies for common ailments or who like to grow productive gardens. It is published in the U.S by Reader's Digest and retails for $19.95
Growing your own food.
Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces is Gayla Trail's second book. It is a beautifully produced book on edible gardening, perhaps the most beautifully done book on the subject I've ever seen. Grow Great Grub is filled with information and tips on composting, seed starting, suggestions on which vegetables, herbs and edible flowers you should grow, what vegetables, herbs and flowers you should grow based on the site conditions of where you plan on vegetable gardening. There are even recipes to help you prepare dishes so that you use the crops your garden produces. For crafty gardeners or people who aren't afraid of small DIY gardening project Gayla included a few like the upside down tomato container.
If you have ever been on the You Grow Girl garden blog or the gardening forum you've no doubt noticed Gayla's trademark graphic design style. The design of Grow Great Grub is very much like that of the garden blog and gardening forum. Curling up with her latest book feels like you're curling up with the You Grow Girl site, without your lap getting hot from the overheating laptop.
Grow Great Grub is a beautiful vegetable gardening book filled with good gardening information and inspiring photos that makes vegetable gardening look stylish and affordable to younger gardeners and those of us without huge gardening budgets.
This is a great vegetable gardening book for people in urban areas who only have small spaces like balconies, decks, porches or rooftops who want to get into growing some of their own food. It is written in a casual and fun style that new gardeners will be able to relate to and understand. If you want to be an urban farmer or urban homesteader pick up a copy of Grow Great Grub, it is the only vegetable gardening book you'll need for a couple of years. It is published by Clarkson Potter and retails for $19.99
There is some overlap in the plants you can grow for these two books. Buy both of them and you can create a sustainable-themed garden that you can use to feed and heal yourself.
I was recently given these two books to review on my garden blog and wanted to share them with you.