Roots 'n' Shoots: Reviews: Books & Websites

Please Help RnS!

Google had brought out an algorithm update in May 2017. With previous updates like Panda or Penguin, Mr G had penalized blogs or websites with low quality content and those more focused on aggressive adverts (including multiple ads or pop-up ads in articles). However, many blogs/websites that weren't shady got penalized beyond recovery too and a lot of people lost their income. The May 2017 update has had wide-scale effect on blogs and websites, but without any explanation from Mr G as to why or what it does. RnS has been hit by it too and hard. RnS organic search stats (i.e. users from Google) have dropped by 75% since. Even though RnS is not a source of income, I tried to figure out why RnS is being culled. It seems that it doesn't really have anything to do with RnS per se, but likely because RnS is FREE and not paying for page ranking (via AdWords or Ad Ranking). Now it is likely being aggressively shoved to lower page rankings to accommodate the paid ads.

I would fully appreciate any sharing of RnS via email, social media or whatever, because I cannot rely on Mr G anymore to get RnS' content where it is needed. I have (re)registered RnS with Bing and I have also switched to DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine.

Thank you & Enjoy the content!

- The Shroom -

Reviews: Books & Websites

Pictures: All the pictures on this blog are either my own photos or free images, unless I reference the picture otherwise. You can use them freely, just mention my blog when using them J. This Blog's Reference: http://rsandss.blogspot.com/

Roots 'n' Shoots blog and its contents are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported, CC BY-NC 3.0. This means that you are free to use, share and remix my work for free for non-commercial purposes given attribution.

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Websites for free resource pictures

Website count: 13

Public Domain/Out-of-copyright images are freely available for commercial and non-commercial use without restrictions and without fees.

Vintage printable: Has a collection of out-of-copyright images of just about everything!

Kurt Stübers Online Library: An extensive collection of out of print and copyright free images: animal and botanical prints and digital photos.

Pictures from Old Books: A website maintained by Liam Quin and provides images, illustrations, prints, extracts and engravings from various vintage and out-of-copyright books.

TextureMate: "Texture images" such as soil types, rock formations, metals, fibres and fabrics - whatever else you can think of.

All Free Downloads: Sports a bunch of free photos and vectors. Just check individual files to make sure they can be used freely and without restriction.

MorgueFile: Free photos and images for corporate or public use. Again just check individual files to make sure that they can be used freely. The MorgueFile license (M) states - "You are allowed to copy distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner" - means you can use the photo freely given you do something with it; modify it in some way, such as placing a border around it or using it in conjunction with something else, such as a blog post or website post, where it becomes apart of the post (the stand alone clause doesn't allow you to print it out and sell or use the photo by itself).

PDPhoto: Has free public domain photos, but check individual files as there are some that are royalty free and not public domain.

ARS - USDA: The US department of Agriculture's Research Services provides many agricultural plant and animal related public domain photos. Nice photographs of pests and insects!

Wikimedia - Commons: Extension of Wikipedia with free usable (some Public domain, others not - check individual files) images, videos and sounds across many topics.

Bittbox: Their "Freebies" page has free wallpapers, textures and vector art.

Keepdesigning: Another blog with free photos, vector art and wallpapers.

Clker: Website with public domain or royalty free clipart, vectors and cartoons.

Cliparts101: Public domain cartoons, clipart and vector graphics.

This is a list of gardening and chicken books that I have obtained and are all great references for various gardening/chicken purposes:


Note: I have several books suited for Australian vegetable gardens, but the South African climate is very similar and thus are a good purchase to make.



Book count: 25




Book: The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control, A Complete Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Garden and Yard the Earth-friendly way (A Rodale Organic gardening book)
Editors: Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W, Ellis and Deborah L. Martin
Year: 2009
Publisher: Rodale Inc
Pages: 408


This is a lovely book! It instills the 'prevention is better than cure' principles, complete list of plant problems spanning the entire plants from leaves to roots as well as identifying the pest causing the problems and how to treat/manage pests using various strategies. A definite buy and permanent addition to the garden library.


Book: The Preserving Book
Author: Lynda Brown
Year: 2010
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Pages: 352

This is an amazing book on how to preserve just about anything. It allows you to capture delicious summer fruit and vegetable to enjoy right through the year. Great for those gluts during the summer! Not limited to fruits and vegetables, but includes preserving methods for meat. It covers several preserving techniques including; Natural storage, Drying, Freezing, Sweet preserves, Savoury preserves, Bottling, Preserving in oil, Salting, Curing, Charcuterie, Smoking, Brewing and wine-making.





Book: The Organic Guide to Edible Gardens
Authors: Jennifer Stackhouse & Debbie McDonald
Year: 2012
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Pages: 207


Very good organic book that is comprehensive, with nice plant profiles at the back and a multitude of tips on organic methods for composting, propagation and watering of vegetable gardens.



Book: Harvest, a complete Australian Guide to the Edible Garden
Author: Meredith Kirton
Year: 2009
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Pages: 440




This book is a must!!!! Go get it now! Full descriptions of growing, harvesting, pruning, seed saving all common types of vegetables, fruits and herbs - with additional guides on exotics, mushroom growing, spices, coffee, tea and other food plants I haven't even heard of with beautiful photographs to boot! Also covers composting, green manure, pests, diseases and garden wildlife! It is a edible gardeners bible at 440 pages and should be in every home.





Book: The Self-sufficiency Manual, a complete practical guide to living off the land
Author: Alison Candlin
Year: 2011
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Pages: 255


This is a very encouraging and inspirational book. It not only teaches the basics of self-sufficiency, but also encourages you to think about how to be more sustainable in your gardening and animals keeping practises. Complete and comprehensive profiles and tables about vegetables, fruits and herbs - how to grow, when to harvest and what problems plague them. It has a good beginners overview for those who want to try their hand at keeping a few farm animals as well, such as chickens, other poultry (ducks, geese and turkeys), goats, pigs and honey bees! Also has sections on how to preserve what you harvest and how to conserve energy and water.




Book: Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens
Authors: Gail Damerow
Year: 2010
Publisher: Storey Publishing



This is a very good all round chicken keeping book. I highly recommend it, it covers breeds (unfortunately not the South African ones), chicken behaviour, caring for chickens & chicks and management of breeding and meat flocks.



Book: The Chicken Health Handbook
Authors: Gail Damerow
Year: 1994
Publisher: Storey Publishing

This book covers every imaginable health problem a chicken can have and their symptoms, treatment and prevention. It covers all health problems from disease causing organisms (parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi etc) to environmental stress (poisoning, heat stress). A very helpful book and a must have for serious chicken keepers.



Book: Mushrooms of South Africa
Authors: Marieka Gryzenhout
Year: 2010
Publisher: Struik Nature


The only books on proper identification of mushrooms in SA! Includes those which are edible and grow on the lawn J. Did you know that SA has its own truffle?! - the Kalahari Truffle. A very informative little book on the wonderfully fascinating organisms known as fungi...



Book: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa
Authors: Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths, Alan Weaving
Year: 2002
Publisher: Struik



The most complete insect book available in South Africa that I know of J. Very useful for identifying the critters in the garden and for general knowledge on insects. A digital read-only version is available here.



Book: What's Wrong with my Plant?
Author: Steven Bradley
Year: 2007
Publisher: A Pyramid Paperback from Hamlyn



When you start out, this will be your best friend. Identify, treat and even prevent various critters and pests from destroying your harvest. Unfortunately, not so big on the organic pest recipe part.



Book: Pot it Grow it Eat it
Author: Kathryn Hawkins
Year: 2010
Publisher: New Holland Publishers



A very good book on container vegetable gardening, for small spaces with lots of sun J. Gives you the lowdown on the basics potted vegetables, types of vegetables, care and recipes.



Book: The Organic Garden, green and easy
Author: Allan Shepherd
Year: 2009
Publisher: Collins


I would say that this is more of a theoretical and philosophical read. It helps you to think in a 'orgnic' (re-use of table scraps for composting...) and 'green' (limit the impact to your environment and to your purse). The only problem is that they get a bit carried away sometimes, using stuff that really belongs in the garbage or their suggested materials to use are either hard to get or expensive (In South Africa!! Big problem for me to get any stuff referred to in overseas books or the items are very expensive). It is a great reference for composting, wormery care and soil maintenance.





Book: The Plant Propagator's Bible
Author: Miranda Smith
Year: 2007
Publisher: New Hollan Publishers

A good book for someone with lots of extra space and time. Saves money and it is very fulfilling to watch pieces of leaves turn into herb plants (not limited to just herbs off course). Especially good for owners of cats who regularly destroy the catnip plant (no matter how you try to protect it) and needs to keep one (or three) as a backup J



Book: Grow Herbs
Author: Jekka McVicar
Year: 2010
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley




The Ultimate book on Herbs!!! And it is truly as the quote from Jamie Oliver states at the back "Jekka is amazing...she is the queen of herbs!". It has practical advice on caring for the herbs and soil. The sections at the back for the use of herbs in the kitchen, home and for the family is awesome. I followed the Aloe gel recipe (modified by using the bush-veld aloe growing in garden than Aloe Vera J just as good - well almost J ) and I always use it for scrapes and insect bites.




Book: Food from your Garden
Author: Jennifer Godbold-Simpson
Year: 2010
Publisher: Struik




This is a book specifically on vegetable gardening in South Africa (yay! one of a few J) Covers vegetables, fruits and some herbs. Very nice plant 'profiles'.



Book: Herbs for cooking
Authors: Roger Phillips and Matryn Rix
Year: 1998
Publisher: Pan



I have no idea if your can even get this book anymore J I didn't realise it is so old - just goes to show - information in books can always be useful, even if they are a little out dated. A very good guide on the cooking uses of herbs, but not so big on how to grow them.



Book: Best Soft Fruit
Authors: Stefan Buczazki
Year: 1994
Publisher: Hamlyn



Found this treasure in a secondhand bookstore - so I do not know whether it is in print anymore, or maybe newer versions are available. An excellent resource when starting out with the 'soft fruits', such as berries, cherries, currants ...



Book: How To Prune
Authors: John Cushnie
Year: 2007
Publisher: Kyle Cathie Limited


No one explains how important it is or even how to properly prune your plant, whether ornamental or fruit/vegetable plants. This is a comprehensive guide on the techniques of pruning and how to prune almost any plant. A must have for gardeners!




Book: The Ultimate Practical Guide to Pruning and Training
Author: Richard Bird
Year: 2009
Publisher: Lorenz Books


Another great book with step-by-step instructions on pruning trees, shrubs, hedges, topiaries, fruits, climbers and roses. Especially like the fruit section with the lovely instructions on creating cordons, espaliers, fans, step-overs, pyramids and the plain ol' bush styles.




Book: grow your own fruits & vegetables the easy way
Authors: Bronwyn Sweeney, Jessica Cox (Editors)
Year: 2009
Publisher: Reader's Digest Australia



Another comprehensive book of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and how to preserve them in a wide array of jams, pickles and bottles... Based on the climate in Australia and New Zealand, but SA has similar climates to these regions and so I added the book to my gardening library.



Book: the Organic garden
Authors: Christine and Micheal Lavelle
Year: (2010 ?- it don't say....)
Publisher: Hermes House



At first glance one would think that this is an ornamental gardening book only, but it has three main themes: the ornamental garden, the wildlife garden and the kitchen (vegetable) garden. Therefore it is really informative on how to attract and assortment of wildlife to your garden, eco-friendly pest control and a complete list of vegetable, fruit and herb profiles, maintenance and care. Another really wonderful gardening book.




Book: The New Oxford Book of Food Plants
Authors: J. G. Vaughan & C. A. Geissler
Year: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press



An amazing book with excellent botanical information on fruits, vegetable and even spices. Best of all it has those botanical artistic sketches that I have great appreciation for. This is my favourite book in the collection J. It is not a 'growing vegetables book', its more a botanical record.



Book: The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds
Authors: Robert Gough & Cheryl Moore-Gough
Year: 2011
Publisher: Storey Publishing

If you are interested in saving seeds of your vegetables, fruits, flowers and trees - then look no further! I absolutely had to have this book, no matter the price, which I do not do often J ... as internet searches weren't really getting me anywhere on this subject... Covers every fruit and vegetable imaginable, great addition to a self-sufficient gardener.



Book: Haynes Chicken Manual, the complete step-by-step guide to keeping chickens
Author: Laurence Beeken
Year: 2010
Publisher: Hanyes

The Chicken Manual is a decent all-round book, but is incomplete and lacks details about several chicken diseases and their treatment. Basic information on feed, water and housing is available. Disease and egg production requires supplementation. Photographs are well appreciated. A more recommended buy is: 'Raising Chickens' by Gail Damerow and her 'The Chicken Health Handbook' as a companion buy are all you need (at the top of this page)! 



Book: Easy to Grow Vegetables, Expert advise, techniques and tips for gardeners
Author: Good Housekeeping
Year: 2010
Publisher: Collins & Brown

This is a fairly decent book, good for beginners, but lacks some vegetable and fruit types. Herbs do not feature in this book at all. If you get it at bargain price then you buy it, else the other books listed here are more than enough.



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