Our green home

A misty solar day.

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.

  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Our green home

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 29th April, 2020.

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.


The chief causes of blindness are macular degeneration and glaucoma; both are very difficult for the individual to detect until it is already too late. It is estimated that 5-10 million Americans are needlessly unable to see, and many more partially sighted, simply because of a deficiency of two phytochemicals.

Enjoy your greens for your eyes' sake.

Curly leaf kale is good for the eyes.


Protein forms the building blocks of our bodies made up of more than twenty so-called amino acids; nine of them are essential. If we do not get them from our food we get a serious disease called kwashiorkor. It is a terminal condition of malnutrition.

All of them are found in meat so omnivores have no need for concern. However, vegans have to be very sure that they get an adequate supply of all of these essential amino acids from legumes which are the main plant source of protein, to which we would add seeds and nuts.

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.

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.

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.

Ask any gardener and they will tell you that greens that have been freshly picked are vastly different to those harvested and sold several days later in the supermarket.

Eat your greens is a plea to those who wish to avoid two of the chief causes of blindness; macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Compost heaps in late winter are most easily worked before the spring rains when the humus is light and dry.

You cannot grow vegetables like these without a plentiful supply of irrigation. The frustration in South Africa is borne out by the oft-heard cry, where is our water? Is it the state's job to supply it, or should we be harvesting the rain and storing it in tanks and underground reservoirs that keep it icy cold?


You will see many salads being advertised as free of lettuce, simply because folk abhor wilted and stale greens. Unfortunately they usually substitute with a refined starch like rice which is very fattening.

Little patches is our first blog showing a way to grow lettuce and other greens.


Corn and beans provide a wonderful balance to the diet in many countries. But once those mealies have been refined, they are simply empty calories, a junk food of the highest order, and not fit for human consumption.

A mealie a day provides some thoughts on why over a quarter of the children in South Africa are permanently stunted. An allied page, why were cornflakes invented, was first published in the Witness in June, 2020.

Baking your own bread need not be an irksome and time-consuming business. It takes me less than ten minutes every morning to produce the most delicious loaf in the world; but wait, dough has a mind of its own.

Part 2 of this series is introduced at ingredients for sourdough bread.

Bread dough has a mind of its own.

Safe and quick food preparation is dependent on the right tools; here are a few of my favourite kitchen utensils.

And my favourite kitchen appliances features here too.

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.

Solar power

Harnessing solar power from the 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.

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.

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.

Harvesting rainwater

Whilst it is true that rainwater in industrial areas will absorbe some pollutants, nothing compares with the micro-particles of plastics that are found in our municipal and many bottled waters.

How safe is our drinking water is a question we should all be weighing, without becoming neurotic. Are there alternatives?


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.

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.

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