Our green home

Our green home is a series of blogs printed in our local newspaper. It covers subjects as diverse as harvesting rainwater and sunshine to making compost heaps and growing lima beans.

Starting on the green journey can be daunting but it is made one step at a time, beginning at where you are.

That could be a need for more vegetable protein from your food because you have had a scare in the family and you are cutting back on red meat.

A misty solar day.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 2nd April, 2021.

Then you would want to start with growing green beans and peas, and learning how to make hummus.

Or perhaps you are getting repeated infections and want to know how to increase the antioxidant vitamins for your well-being, and make a natural probiotic in your own kitchen. Could you create a little blue zone in your own home and garden where longevity becomes central to your planning to both the length and quality of your remaining days on Mother Earth?

I am not a vegetarian myself but lies in our family history, so growing lettuce and rocket, and herbs like parsley is where we personally began. My great grandmother gave up meat after witnessing the slaughtering of horses for food during the siege of Ladysmith

Recycling the waste from our home is something that all those who have a love and respect for the planet should be doing. Do you want a habitable, pristine place in the sun for your offspring?

In short, start where you are, rather than the first blog you read.

Our green home

Our green home covers all the blogs published in the media over the last five years. We will set it up in categories. Taking good care of ourselves and our possessions is kind of the theme tune.

End of winter chores like cleaning out gutters and turning compost heaps needs to be done mindfully. It is easy to injure yourself if the ladder slips.

Our green garden

The organic fruit and vegetables from our green garden are at the heart of our well-being; food free from toxic pesticides and grown in compost and vermi-leachate from the worm farms is absolutely central to our understanding of a life free from malignant neoplasms and copious medications.

Freshly picked the flavours are divine; you will never know just how much better until you begin to indulge yourself with food grown on your own land.

Curly leaf kale is good for the eyes.

When using recipes with lemon juice, as with many greens, ignore the prevailing advice. Use the lemon pulp too; that is where more than half of the nutrients are to be found.


Legumes are the food that enables vegetarians and vegans to get sufficient protein with eating meat, fish or chicken; or dairy products and eggs.

At our green home we specialise in many different legumes, but queen of the table is the broad bean; they are also known as favas.

We are not vegetarians but are trying hard to reduce our reliance on meat for protein, partly because of the way animals are reared today, but also because of the contribution they make to green house gases and a shortage of water.

Rainwater storage is our other contribution to this growing nightmare in South Africa. First Cape Town and now Port Elizabeth have been in dire straits.

Broad beans

Broad bean pods

Broad beans are the first on our list, firstly because they have the highest protein content of all legumes, and secondly as they are only edible if harvested and enjoyed freshly picked.

Since they are difficult to obtain, we make a call for some gardeners to become broad bean entrepreneurs who will be able to supply those suffering from Parkinson's disease; these legumes are one of the very few natural sources of L-dopa.

Broad beans on toast is a marvellous dish that can be prepared in a very short times, but shell the pods only if they can be stringed and certainly don't pop them out of their skins.

I am yet to meet someone who does not love freshly-picked green peas or climbing beans from the garden. They have pride of place, not least because they supply nitrogen to the soil, obviating the need for inorganic fertilisers.

Compost heaps are important at our green home; they help provide the humus that makes for increased uptake and water from the soil. Building and turning them is hard physical work but that is central in our attempt to turn our garden into a cyan zone; where ten times as many people live to one hundred years old, whilst simultaneously caring for the planet.

In short, if one wants to live long in the land, a garden has to be central; apart from anything else, taking time to smell the roses means less stress. It is being called forest bathing. 

Growing and eating food from your own garden, for example more legumes like beans and peas is common to all five of the blue zones where folk live regularly into vibrant old age.

What is a cyan zone  you may be asking. The colour is a mixture of blue and green; some would call it turquoise.

Our green kitchen

What goes on in your own kitchen at home will have a far greater impact on your wellness, how much pain and sickness you suffer from, and how long you live than how good or bad your doctor is.

In our green kitchen we often boast about our compost bin; it too will give a measure of your well-being.

Compost bins are an important part of gardening, and how healthy you will be.

Spices and all things nice

Dried peppadew flakes.

Growing peppadews has been one of the most interesting and profoundly tasty foods I have grown. They are simply a delight.

I do not have the energy for it but you could make a few bob on the side out of a little peppadew cottage industry in your garden. They take up about a square metre per plant and produce in excess of 100 plump delicious, spicy fruit that are not too hot.


Summer garden kale.

This page is constantly being updated.

worm farms

Worm farms and the black plague is not just far fetched. Madagascar had a serious outbreak in 2018. Whenever garbage collection is not effectually done and properly treated then the rats that harbour bubonic plague will flourish.

These confessions of a waste picker all started because of a need to feed the worms, only to discover there are totally other and new dimensions to dumpster diving. People too will eat what the green grocer throws away.

Remember that water is the greatest enemy of the worm farms; they will drown if then tanks are flooded.

Our green Solar power

Our green solar power, harnessing energy from Mr Golden Sun as our grandchildren call him, is a very large topic at this site. In countries with an unreliable grid that means batteries for storing that energy. Make your home resilient to the inevitable change that is coming upon our world.

It is time to go solar.

What is a professional is an important question to answer before setting out on a solar installation.

Lithium batteries

Lithium batteries at our green home.

Lithium batteries are in 2019 the best way to store electrical energy. There are many new types coming on to the market but they at this stage are still more expensive and less proven.

These are astonishingly good; we are waiting for several consecutive wet days to see how they cope before going off the grid. Here is an update; we have used less than 1 kWh in three months from the grid.

Should you put in a gas geyser or go on to a prepaid electrity meter is a question that has haunted us; we have finally made the decision.

The big hit in electricity prices in 2020 should come into the equation when considering the financial viability of going solar.

The total unreliability of the utility in Hilton gave rise to drama on Town Hill.

There is a solution to load shedding and security sytems; it is as simple as replacing the small inadequate gel-cell batteries.

Electric vehicles

Jean in her new Nissan Leaf.

Electric vehicles are the future but they remain very expensive and not many are available in South Africa. We have just in December 2019 given ourselves a much desired Christmas gift; a second-hand Nissan Leaf. I will write more about that later.

Turning over a blue Leaf has taken on a different meaning this New Year.

But first an update on the general status of electrical vehicles in South Africa. The E-car has landed gives my take on the subject.

There are no hints in this Warren Buffett interview what car he drives, but this man is an inspiration to me; he is a world leader in the art of frugal living.

Our green rainwater harvester

Harvesting rainwater remains near the top of the list of priorities at our green home.

Whilst it is true that rainwater in industrial areas will absorbe some pollutants from the atmosphere, nothing compares with the micro-particles of plastics that are found in our municipal and most bottled waters; over 300 tiny bits per litre on average.

How safe is our drinking water is a very disturbing question to face.

Post-chlorination products too are highly carcinogenic; it was our desire to have a copious supply of free pristine rainwater straight from the tap in our home. There is plenty for the garden too.

Green rainwater harvesting is a building project that can be completed in about two weeks for an estimated cost of R30,000 in 2020.

At rain-water storage you can consider more thoughts on the subject.


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, your family and friends, and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books!

Here are the back issues.

  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

It is hard to believe but the average American consumes 5g of plastic from the water he drinks every week; that is the weight of a credit card.

Harvesting rainwater is not rocket science; we have found that storing it in an underground reservoir is the best way.

Hot water is best obtained via a solar geyser.

The microbiome

Beneficial bacteria, viruses and protozoa known as the microbiome inhabit different parts of the human body. However, should the environment get out of balance, their numbers decline and pathogens may take advantage of the situation.

One such community of bugs lives in the armpit; raising the pH by using bicarb as a deodorant discourages those that cause body odour. It is highly effective but does not reduce sweating.

The gut-lung connection and the coronavirus means there is real value in making kefir in own kitchens in preparation for the that each of us is likely to be exposed eventually to this extremely virulent flu.


Planet Earth is in dire need of beekeepers, both hobbyists and those who wish to make it into a commercial venture. The startup costs are relatively small and the return immediate.

With one in four mouthfuls pollinated by our little friends, who will save the bees is a question every human should be asking.

Carpet South Africa with Spekboom not just for its ability to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but also for the prolific nectar produced.

Beautiful bouquets of flowers from the florist mean yet more misery for our landfills already totally overloaded with plastic.

Proper chickens

The English love their proper eggs from free-range and fertile chickens; that means a cockerel. Half of those darling little chicks grow up to be very randy and raucous young cockerels; so what do you do with them? Why, set out the chairs and invite the ladies to come with their knitting, of course; off with their heads.

The only problem is that my wife is a racist and will simply not touch that brown meat.

Farmers' markets

At farmers' markets you have a far better chance of getting fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Don't expect to get bargains because producing food without fertilizer and weedicides is hard work.

We support the Reko Farmers's Market in Hilton, South Africa.

Did you find this page interesting? How about forwarding it to a friend, or book and food junkie; or, better still, a Facebook or Twitter tick would help.


56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa