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BooksA little 'Shed Time' reading

Interested in getting an allotment or simply enjoy gardening, Cooking and Wildlife?

All libraries have shed-loads of great free reads to enjoy, DVD’s, and free Internet services.

So if you are tired of weeding, try some reading (or surfing).



Reading & Weeding Book List: Summer 2013
Reading (not Weeding) : Some new books to try ....
Southend Libraries have shed-loads of great free reads to enjoy over the summer.– all available at Southend Libraries
, For FREE requests and more new titles visit

by Alys Fowler, (Kyle Books, May 2013).. This book explains how best to harvest and store home-grown goods and so keep them for longer than shop-bought versions..

They Can't Ration These:
A timely re-print of the 1940 title by Vicomte de Maudit, (Persephone Books). this cookery book looks at "food for free" during a time of rationing/ austerity. Included are recipes for nettles, samphire and Squirrels. More titles at

My Cool Allotment:
An inspirational guide to stylish allotments and community gardens. by Lia Leendertz (Pavillion Books, May 2013). This new book captures the new spirit of allotmenteering, including the rather fab plots in Saltaire, West Yorkshire.

Sustainable Home:
The essential guide to eco building, renovation and decoration by Cathy Strongman (Merrell Publishers, 2010). A great read. Beautifully illustrated, it features photos of a wide range of stunning sustainable homes from across the globe.

Edible Estates:
Attack on the front lawn A project by Fritz Haeg. Metropolis Books (2nd edn). Edible gardening US style and beyond. Instead of mowing, start sowing and growing food. Lawns cover 30 million acres of the United States and only 1-2% of America's food is grown locally.

Portrait of Basildon Plot lands:
The enduring spirit Dianna Walker and Peter Jackson, (Phillimore Books, 2010). The legacy of South Essex 'plot lands' - small pieces of land sold in the first half of the last century to people and who built weekend cottages, holiday bungalows or smallholdings on the land. Why not visit "The Haven" Plot lands Museum at Dunton,


Bees and Wasps:
by James Maclaine and John Francis Usborne Beginners series, May 2013.. An excellent illustrated guide book for younger readers and insect fans of any age!

Bee Manual:
From Haynes, the publishers who brought you car repair manuals. This handy step-by-step guide for beginners is by Bill Turnbull (and without references to clutch / brake problems).

A Sting in the Tale:
By Dave Goulson, (Jonathan Cape, April 2013). The author began studying Bumble Bees "not because they are important pollinators, but because they are fascinating, because they are interesting and mysterious things, and because they are rather loveable".

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Green Reads, Summer 2012 .... click here

Green Reads: Summer 2012
A heady mix of book reviews, websites and dodgy Gardening LP covers..! Take time indoors to enjoy some of these new gardening and cookery books – all available at Southend Libraries, For FREE requests and more new titles visit

Cosmic! In 1995, potatoes were the first vegetable to be grown in space....
Potatoes are the world's most popular vegetable and have been welcomed into the cuisines of countries around the globe. Potatoes are used in curries in India and in pasta in Italy, stewed with bananas in Costa Rica, baked with rice in Iran, stuffed with liver in Belarus, stir-fried with green beans in Ethiopia.

My Cool Shed:
An inspirational guide to stylish hideaways and workspaces by Jane Field-Lewis Pavilion Books 2012. Escape to a place of your own and let the creative juices flow- the shed as artist's retreat, workshop, bar or alternative space. All lovingly captured in photos and interviews with the proud owners. WARNING! You will experience Shed Envy!.

The Hedgerow Handbook:
Recipes, remedies and Rituals by Adele Nozedar (Square peg Books, 2012) Dedication "This book is for everyone who understands the simplicity of living for the moment, and who can appreciate a nice hedge when they see one". This fantastic little book is a fully illustrated guide to British hedgerows and their plants and how to use them. It doubles up as a cook book with some very interesting recipes for your foraged crops. Also contains a remedy for Housemaid's Knee.

Cooking for One:
150 Delicious Recipes to Treat Yourself by Jane Field-Lewis Pavilion Books 2012. Home alone ? Why not indulge yourself with some of the dishes in this easy-to-use book; and in less time, with less washing-up and with ingredients that you really like. One can be fun.

Recipes from the Great Houses:
by Michael Barry 1992 (Past Times books). OK so a little old, but hey this is a fascinating read and part magical history tour of the English country kitchen. Recipes are based on the books of cooks from both manor house and castle. I like the sound of Mr. Butler's Gooseberry Wine (17th century), Bisketts the Maidstone Way and an 18th century Spinach Tart recipe looks like a real winner!!

Our Plot:
by Cleve West (Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2011). This is another title in the growing library of books in the style of "How I took on an allotment and lived to tell the tale". To be fair it's a very good read and the photos and art work are easy on the eye. The practical stuff is well explained, and if you can stay awake to read it after all that hard work down your plot, it's worth a look.

Kitchen Garden Cookbook:
Potatoes by Jane McMorland Hunter, (National Trust, 2011). This marvellous little guide is full of nostalgic images and quirky facts - did you know potatoes were thought to cause leprosy, once considered as unnatural and the food of the devil because they were grown underground! Appropriately it includes recipes for Hot Lightning, Jansson's Temptation and soups (lots). Tuber-tastic!

The Wartime Kitchen Garden:
by Jennifer Davies (BBC Books, 1993). Re-discover Potato Pete, a character created by the Ministry of Food that resulted in a song / record* and recipe book featuring hundreds of interesting ways to best use the spud. This included a typical wartime dish "Sweet Potato pudding" made with potatoes, an egg, honey and rhubarb or any fruit in season.
*Sung by Betty Driver (aka the late great Betty Turpin of TV soap, Coronation Street and hot-pot guru)..


Spuds We Like?
This website is packed with all the tattie facts you'll ever need....

Got my Mojo working
On the Canary Islands, Papas Arrugadas are 'wrinkly' tatties boiled in sea water and served with either Mojo Verde or Mojo Rojo, a traditional Canarian Sauce made with Garlic and herbs or Paprika.
Try Recipes Around the World from the International Vegetarian Union website:
BBC Good Food website:
What Will the Harvest Be


Spuds We Like?
Percy Thrower's first and only DOUBLE LP (The original Four Seasons).

Green Reads, Autumn 2010 here

Green Reads: Autumn 2010
Forget the weeding! Take time indoors to enjoy some of these new gardening and cookery books – all available at Southend Libraries, For FREE requests and more new titles visit

Good stuff
"The Good Food Producers Guide 2010" by Rose Prince, is organised into 10 chapters, each one covering a different type of produce such as farm shops, honey, dairy, fish and seafood etc. Complete with a handy seasonal food calendar and UK food festival guide, this independent directory lists over 1000 places to buy the best produce region by region.

Family Favourites
Kirsty Manning-Wilcox and Peta Heine have come up with a delicious selection of family recipes straight from their garden. "We Love Food: Family Recipes from the Garden" shares eighty different great menu ideas that cater for all ages and tastes, with meals for even the fussiest of eaters! Growing, harvesting, cooking and enjoying food with your family and friends -made easy.

Low -Carbon living
"The Rough Guide to Ethical Living" by Duncan Clark is an indispensible reference book looking at low-carbon living and responsible shopping – a sort of going green without the tree hugging. Printed on 100% recycled fibres, this book offers a useful starting point for anyone wanting to lead a greener and fairer lifestyle. Another from the Rough Guides series is "Climate Change: the Symptoms, the Science, the Solutions" by Robert Henson.

Plot to Plate
"The RHS Allotment Handbook" is another title in the wide range of books published around growing your own. With handy sections on getting started and planning what to grow, it also suggests 40 of the tastiest vegetables using RHS recommended varieties. This well illustrated book also shows you how to cultivate fruit, herbs, flowers and looks at "allotment etiquette" and community gardening.

Small is Beautiful
"Growing food in Small Spaces" by Barbara Segall looks at how anyone with limited outdoor space can still sow and grow some great crops. If you want to create a window box allotment or
plant a herby hanging basket, this inspiring little book could be for you.

Trusty Recipes
"The National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook" by Laura Mason isn?t a slim read, but that?s because it brings together a collection of 200 mouth-watering recipes. The book seeks to celebrate two things: the tradition of farmhouse cookery, and the link between landscape and food. Delicious menus with a sense of place make this an enjoyable celebration of Britain?s rich food heritage.

Food on the Cheap
"The Pauper's Cookbook" by Jocasta Innes was first published back in 1971 by Penguin Books. At the time it brought together a (wealth?) of recipes for meals costing just 40pence per head! Reprinted and updated by the author, it is still worth tracking down for some great dishes and cheap eats that won't cost you a fortune - even at today's prices.

Soothing Classic
"Gardener's Nightcap" by Muriel Stuart was an instant bestseller when first published in 1938. It's a wonderful miscellany of garden observations, hints and tips – everything from Better Gooseberries to Managing Meadow Gardens. It's easy to dip into just before you doze off in the armchair after a hard day's weeding. Reprinted by Persephone books, it features charming illustrations and colour endpapers taken from 'Fritillary', a 1936 block-printed linen designed by Margaret Calkin James.

The No.1 Ladies' Catering Agency
"Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook" featuring Botswana's foremost fictional lady detective is a real treat. The book contains examples of nourishment for the "traditionally built': everything from Bush Tea to Motholeli's Disappearing Banana Cake. Beautifully packaged, Stuart Brown's book gives the reader a taste of sub-Saharan African cuisine and the comfort of heavenly food!

Flour Power
To tie in with the recent "Great British Bake Off" series, the BBC Food's website features sample recipes, posters (and even downloadable bunting!) to download or use for your own Children in Need fundraising event. See for more details.

Plan Bee
Several organisations are actively campaigning to help reverse the decline in honey bee numbers.
Check out these buzzin' websites to see how you can get involved and support these projects.

Film Screening
The Co-operative membership is bringing to Southend Library a screening of the film
"Vanishing of the Bees", on Thursday 11th November 2010 (7.15pm- 9.30pm) as part of its Plan Bee campaign to inform members and the wider public of the plight of the bees. For more information go to
If you would like to attend please call or email by 5th November to book your ticket, as there are limited places available. Telephone: 01908 361500 or e-mail: membership.central& or go online and register at the membership website

Green Reads, Summer 2010 here

Green Reads, Summer 2010
Essex Libraries have shed-loads of gardening and cookery books. The following list was compiled by Simon Wallace at Southend Libraries

Getting Started
"Allotment Gardening for Dummies" by Sven Wombwell is a new book packed with great tips to help you plan your allotment. Included are sections on how to revive a tired plot, effective composting, simple and safe projects for kids and a handy crop calendar to help you decide the best time to grow your own produce. From the "Dummies" series, there are handy free Cheat Sheets online at

"Grow Your Own Vegetables" is a handy little book from Flame Tree Publishing. Written by Rachelle Strauss, the chapters guide you through the How, What and When of growing your own vegetables. It also has useful sections on harvesting and preserving your produce, garden-free growing and easy crops for the beginner to try.
Also from Flame Tree Publishing is "Allotment Gardening" by Jez Abbott, another title in the growing range of guides to allotmenteering. This book is very readable and includes a brief history lesson (did you know Albert Einstein was a summer visitor to his plot in Berlin-Spandau during the 1920?s!) Practical and interesting this is a good addition to the subject.

Good Life
Edited by Scheherazade Goldsmith, "A Slice of Organic Life" includes 80 simple eco-projects from baking bread and making your own wormery to keeping chickens and preserving your own harvest. Published by Dorling Kindersley, the projects are well illustrated and easy to follow.

Welsh Wonder
"The Garden in the Clouds" by Anthony Woodward (Harper Press) recalls the author?s attempts to create a garden "so special it would appear in the prestigious Yellow Book- and the famous National Gardens scheme for gardens open to the public for charity". For his grand design the author chooses a derelict small holding so high up in the Black Mountains of Wales, it is routinely lost in cloud. This is the memoir of an ambitious and hopelessly romantic gardener. Note: contains sheep, mud, lots of stones and a "Not Garden?.

At the 1904 St Louis Universal exposition C.H. Sumner first introduced the world to the joys of this packed lunch standard. "The Magic of Peanut Butter" is a vintage-style cookbook that features over 100 recipes for nut lovers everywhere.

Plot to Plate
"New Urban Farmer" by food writer and professional cook Celia Brookes Brown is an inspiring journal, gardening manual and cookery book rolled into one. Great photos, compliment the tasty recipes set to tempt even the most jaded "townie". Dip into this delightful read or visit for more menus and gardening ideas..

Eastern Feasts
Silvena Rowe?s book "Feasts" inspires you to try out the unique flavours and tastes of Central and Eastern European cookery. With mouth-watering photos from Jonathan Lovekin, this book is a real treat. Why not share Khachapuri (Georgian Bread), Makowiec, a type of Polish Poppy Seed and Almond cake or Beetroot and Date Caviar.

Family Favourites
"Home Made" by Tara Ramsey is a collection of delicious recipes that are meant to be shared with family and friends. This new book compliments her two earlier books; Family Kitchen and Real Family Food and includes some nice vegetarian dishes and puddings.

The One Show
As more and more people turn to growing their own, it can be difficult to find enough space in a smaller garden, or decide between flowers over food. Why not combine them all and discover new ways to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers in the same plot. Need help? Try Graham Rice?s book "All-in-one garden" which is a good starting point.

Easy Beesy
A new title from the Teach Yourself series, "Get Started in Beekeeping" is an excellent guide to for the new or potential beekeeper. Authors Adrian and Claire Waring have over 70 years beekeeping experience between them, and share their knowledge and expertise in this practical guide. Helpful colour photos compliment a handy month-by-month bee calendar.
"Plan Bee" by Susan Brackney (Hay House) tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the humble, hardworking unsung heroines of the food chain. This is an enjoyable guided tour around the world of bees. The book also contains practical tips on attracting bees to your garden or allotment and making your own bumble bee nest box.

Mirror Man
"Back to the Garden" with Mr Digwell is based on the gardening cartoon strips that featured in the Daily Mirror newspaper from the 1950?s. The man himself was born aged 65 and remained so for the next 40 years until he hung up his flat cap and spade in the late 1980?s. Packed with How To?s, What To?s and When To?s, it?s a nostalgic and thoroughly enjoyable gardening read.

Bombers and Mash
Published by Michael O? Mara Books "Eating for Victory" is a collection of facsimile leaflets from the Ministry of Food, showing how millions of people in Britain made do with Home Front cooking on rations during the Second World War.
Pre-Jamie Oliver, this fascinating little book is packed with hints and tips for healthy eating; much of the advice is still relevant today. So go on - rustle yourself up Anzac Biscuits, Nettle Soup, a Welsh Wonder or Brussels sprouts a L?Italienne and eat for victory! Also available in this series is "Make Do and Mend".
Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall tells the story of how people coped with wartime food shortages,
and in the process became healthier than ever before "The Ministry of Food: Thrifty Wartime Ways to Feed Your Family Today" is still relevant in the face of rising food prices, increasing food miles and obesity levels. This book shows you how to better survive the credit crunch with a bit of wartime wisdom and ingenuity.

The Key to Self-Sufficiency
"How to Store Your Garden Produce" by Piers Warren is a modern guide to storing and preserving your crops, enabling you to eat home grown-produce all year round. All the main methods are clearly explained; Clamping, Freezing, Drying, Vacuum-packing, Salting, Bottling etc. Also included are recipes for pickles, jams, jellies, fruit butters, cheeses and fermenting (brewing) your own. Save money, cut down on packaging and reduce food miles.

Home Front
"Green Cleaning for Dummies" is a practical guide to eco-friendly housekeeping. Packed with simple green cleaning tips, the book shows how by making small changes in our housekeeping practices we can all make a positive difference to the planet. With tips on how to take recycling to the next level and reducing your water usage, Elizabeth Goldsmith?s book is a great starting point for reviewing your green impact. Check it out!

Plotted History
The humble allotment has a surprisingly turbulent political and social history, and initially plots were set up as a charitable means by which the poor could grow their own food and so stave off starvation. During the World Wars the allotment became the focal point on the home front, as families took part in the Dig for Victory campaigns. The post-war years saw a decline in the popularity as the supermarket took over from home-grown produce and successive governments ignored allotments in favour of new housing. However, with increased concerns about the environment, food safety and the interest in organic gardening and "Grow Your Own" movement, allotments are once more in vogue, with high demand and long waiting lists for vacant plots.
Twigs Way recently appeared at Southend Library to give a talk based on her recent book "Allotments". Other published titles include "Virgins Weeders and Queens: A History of Women in the Garden' (2006) "Crocodiles in the Fernery: an A-Z of Animals in the Garden', 'Allotments' and "The History of the Garden Gnome' - all published by Shire Books Recent books include "Digging for Victory: The Wartime Garden' (2009), "Topiary' (2010). For more details visit her website


Books reviewed pre 2010 here

First find your plot…
The Allotment Handbook by Caroline Foley neatly covers every aspect of managing a plot, beginning with the “basics” such as soil preparation, dealing with weeds, and crop rotation systems etc.
A very useful month-by-month action plan gives tips and tactics to keep your allotment productive all year round. Other books by this author include: The A-Z of Allotment Vegetables and Practical Allotment Gardening both available from libraries.

Time Management
The Half-Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz is aimed at those who want to enjoy the benefits of an allotment, but are pressed for time. Tried on her own plot, the author uses methods that could help you grow lots - in no time at all!

Typical Allotment siteBeginners Class
The Allotment Book by Andi Clevely is another well-illustrated guide for anyone new to the plot. It brilliantly captures the “blood, sweat and joy” of growing your own. Recommended to allotmenteers of any age.

Small is beautiful
Successful Allotments is a little book with big ideas. Published by Impact press as part of their Green Essential series, it aims to help you easily create an organic garden or plot.
Other simple step-by-step guides include: slugs, compost, ponds, wildlife etc. For more details visit

Bob A Job 
The No-Work Garden by Bob Flowerdew is a book many people will find instantly appealing - a sort of gardening without the boring bits. As you’d expect from the organic guru, some of his suggestions are off the (tyre) wall, but it could help you get the most out of your garden for a lot less effort.

A Little Green Book
Allotment Gardening: An Organic Guide for Beginners by Susan Berger is no coffee-table book, but a simply presented guide for beginners. Packed with practical advice it gives helpful tips for anyone wishing to grow organically.

Arty folks versus Artichokes
Allotment Folk by Chris Opperman is a humorous celebration of the diversity and eccentricity of the modern allotment community; Great black and white photos portray a world where individuality still is king (or queen).
Shed Men by Gareth Jones features a further cast of eccentric shed-heads. Weird and wonderful - all at the same time!

‘Doing A Delia’
As big as a dinner plate, this glossy title from the BBC, Delia’s Kitchen Garden shows you how to grow and then cook your home grown vegetables. Delia comes up with the double cream, rather than double digging, but the book and the finished recipes are still a feast for the eyes.

Cooking the Books
Having successfully grown all your own veg, why not try some of the new recipes given in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Supercook. Flavour-filled weekday meals and menus from all over the world inspire without spending hours in the kitchen.

Old Skool
Interested in the recent history of allotments? Travel back in time with the Ration Book Cookery from English Heritage. With recipes adapted for the modern kitchen, this fascinating book provides a true taste of the times, including Mock Marzipan, Curried Carrots and Passion Dock Pudding!
Other titles about the “Dig for Victory” era include Bombers and Mash by Raynes Minns, Spuds, Spam and Eating for Victory by Katherine Knight, We’ll Eat Again by Marguerite Patten and The Wartime Kitchen and Garden by Jennifer Davies’, featuring BBC veterans Harry Dodson and Ruth Mott.
All Muck, No Medals by Joan Mant is a fitting tribute to the vital role played by the Women’s Land Army and the ‘Land Girls’ who helped keep food on the nation’s table during wartime.

What a Year
Allotted Time: Twelve Months, Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea records the first year on a plot with Robin Shelton (and his mate Steve). This book offers an insight into the benefits allotments offer anyone looking for a slice of the good life, or simply somewhere to chill out and de-stress.

Tricks with String
101 things to do in a shed by Rob Beattie (Ebury Press) is part homage to Boy’s Own Annuals of the 1930’s and part DIY manual. Are sheds simply a place where post-modern man (or woman) goes to find him / herself? Welcome to the sanctuary of the shed!

Gutter Press
The Great Vegetable Plot by Sarah Raven is a visual treat that also comes packed with simple, speedy tips on how to sow, grow and cook great looking vegetables - some of which start life in lengths of plastic roof guttering!

Plot to Pot
Michelin-starred chef Paul Merrett and family share their experiences of breaking free from supermarket shopping to live off the produce from a small London allotment. Using the Plot - Tales of an Allotment Chef is an honest and amusing memoir / cookbook of how one family tries to make a difference.

Food for free
Seaweed and Eat It is a memoir, natural history guide and cookbook rolled into one. This inspirational book shows you how to make use of the wild larder by getting the whole family involved in foraging for free feasts. Packed with recipes and clear advice it puts the adventure back into mealtimes.

Shaker Table
Get back to basics with Norma MacMillan’s cookery book In a Shaker Kitchen.
This fantastic collection of 100 traditional American recipes is based on home-grown ingredients, simply prepared and beautifully presented. Included are vegetarian dishes, breads, puddings and thirst-quenching fruit and herb drinks.

The Best things in life…
Fun shouldn’t be a costly or stressful business. The Book of Idle Pleasures by Tom Hodgkinson and Dan Kieran lists 100 simple, free delights such as Libraries, Garden Sheds, and Looking at Maps, Gathering Food from Hedgerows, Whittling, Slippers, Cloud Watching and Learning the Names of Trees.

New Kid on the Plot
Valentine Low decides to quit the world of dinner parties and take on an allotment. One Man and His Dig charts the entertaining first year in the life of a plot novice coming to terms with Sheds, Slugs and Squirrels.

Green Guerrillas
Richard Reynolds new book On Guerrilla Gardening looks at the world-wide green revolution that’s transforming neglected public areas and unloved shared spaces through innovative and inspirational illicit cultivation.

Free ‘Reading Spaces Toolkit’.
This practical and easy-to-follow guide for any individual or community group shows you how to transform an unused outside space into a permanent reading garden. Visit the NYR website ( for more ideas.

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Couch Potato

A DVD called simply The Allotment aims to take the new and experienced plot holder through the growing seasons. Based on a fifteen part TV series, this three DVD set is great viewing. For details visit or borrow a copy through your library.

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Useful Websites

Gardening: Garden Organic National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Royal Horticultural Society Allotments Regeneration Initiative (ARI) National Allotment Gardens Trust Tried and tested garden stuff Gardens without borders Download a free guide to starting your plot Solutions to sustainable living Celebrate the International Year of the Potato What Will the Harvest Be Feed Leeds project is a constituted group and network of organisations and individuals involved with sustainable local food and related issues in the city. A town that grows and campaigns for local food organised by a community growers' group: Inspirational stuff.Check out the "not a Guardian Readers Groovy Club" video and the idea of keeping 3 plates spinning..... Discover more at

Food: Recipes Around the World from the International Vegetarian Union BBC Good Food website In WWII, as the Axis forces lay siege to the islands of Malta and Gozo, food supplies became precariously low. In January 1942, the Maltese government established Victory Kitchens to reduce food wastage and ensure all islanders received a daily cooked meal. For more fascinating facts on other wartime food campaigns go to

Wildlife: Discover the Good, the Bad and the Buggy "Giving Nature a Home ("Also A Guide to Garden Wildlife" - Bumble Bees and Mason Bees get a mention on BBC Radio 4's new five part series. The first episode looked at log piles and long grass.)

Sustainability: A unique project which seeks to stimulate low carbon economic growth in the East of England. For more information on the project and the eco-hut in Southend visit the website

Stuck for reading ideas? Let your computer choose! The "Park and Read" book group which was set up by Southend Libraries in partnership with the Council's Parks team. To find out more about book groups, watch this short BBC film "Mood-boosting" book lists are available free from Southend Libraries as part of the new national "Reading Well" scheme.

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Lost the Plot?

Southend-on-SeaDetails of all the allotment sites in Southend and Leigh, can be found on the Council’s website at

To request, renew or look up more gardening books visit the on-line catalogue at

Southend Borough Libraries

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