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Christopher Hobbs and Leslie Gardner
Grow It, Heal It: Natural and Effective Herbal Remedies from Your Garden or Windowsill
Rodale Books
US Large-Format Paperback First Edition
ISBN 978-1-609-61570-3
Publication Date: 05-21-2013
230 Pages; $21.99
Date Reviewed: 12-16-2014
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2014

Index:  Non-Fiction

The practices are ancient, some more than 5,000 years old. In another age, not so long ago, really, Christopher Hobbs and Leslie Gardner would have been called hedgerow witches. But what was once sorcery is now science.

Happily, we've come far enough in both our cultural acceptance and our scientific understanding to realize that as amazing as modern medicine may be, ancient medicine has some pretty astonishing lessons to learn from as well. An easy and practical way to do so is Hobbs' and Gardner's beautiful book, 'Grow it, Heal It: Natural and Effective Herbal Remedies from Your Garden or Windowsill.' What so great about this is that, yes, it is science, but not rocket science, or even garden science. Rank amateurs and armchair agriculturalists are invited, and easily able to participate in this party.

The setup here is smartly simple. There's a nice introduction that lays out where the authors are coming from and where you're headed when you read the book. From there, the book is divided into flour sections; Know It, with a list of 50 herbs, what they're good for and how to grow them, Grow It, with more detailed instructions for setting up a variety of home gardens; windowsill, front yard, back yard, planters, etc; Make It, how to cure, dry, produce teas, tinctures and more; and Heal It, a guide to how you can use what you have grown.

Make no mistake, the authors are all about care and caution. It's obvious, but repeated early and often in this book, that acute illness requires a doctor's appointment. That said, there are lots of great cures to be found in here that are all-natural, the virtue of which is becoming increasingly underscored by scientific research. Until they're growing us over at Monsanto, natural products have an intuitive and actual advantage. Nothing here is seen as a re-placement for the doc-in-a-box, but rather, as a low-key way of nipping some problems in the buds, often with buds. (No, not those!)

One of the attractions of this book is the lovely layout. Credit Rodale with making this a book that is perfect for perusing before you head out to your local independent garden store to pick up some of the plants described, from Aloe Vera to Yerba mansa. The authors offer a wide range of herbs, but not so many as to seem overwhelming. Clearly, they've learned the virtues of brevity.

Ultimately and charmingly, what you get here is a cookbook for natural remedies. At the very least, you get a guide to growing some interesting and easily maintained herbs. At best, you get to replace some of the more noxious pills in your medicine cabinet with something you created. You'll know everything in the remedy, which is itself a source of comfort.

Whether or not you think yourself the sort of person who would grow herbs, 'Grow It, Heal' proved readers with an easy-on-the-eye guide to growing plants that may prove useful beyond being green things in your immediate vicinity that you have brought to life. But even meeting that baseline is not a bad place to start. Growing anything is itself a healing experience.

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