Gardening for greener living

Gardening for greener living

Your garden is the ideal place to start practicing greener living. Working in your garden is satisfying. Whether you grow prize roses, or vegetables to feed your family, sustainable gardening makes your efforts more rewarding. With a focus on preserving the soil and using resources wisely, eco-friendly gardening is cost-effective and easy to do. Here are some sustainable gardening principles you can start using in your garden right now.

  • Composting

Eco-friendly homes take advantage of available resources and make the most of them. Recycle your food scraps, used coffee grounds, vegetable peeling and plant cuttings. By making your own compost you’re able to fertilise your garden for free. And you’ll provide your plants with a rich source of nutrients. Composting is a perfect example of green living.

To make your own composter, start by picking out a shady spot in your garden. Your compost heap should be larger than a cubic metre, but smaller than 5 cubic metres. The compost heap should be large enough to generate sufficient heat to break down the material.

Start with a layer of course material such as thin sticks or twigs. Then add a mixture of grass clipping and green and dried leaves. Then add some soil. You can also add manure to your compost heap, make sure it’s well-rotted. You don’t want to be inundated with flies or a subject your neighbours to the potent smell. Keep adding more layers to your heap in this order until it’s a about a metre high. Over time, the material will turn to compost.

These are typical items you’re able to add to your compost heap:

  • Fruit and vegetable peelings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Lawn cuttings
  • Nut shells
  • Straw
  • Paper
  • Cardboard and eggs cartons

Composting ticks two greener living habits off your checklist in one go. You end up sending less waste to the landfill, and you recycle organic materials at the same time. A third is, you feed your garden without it costing anything.

  • Harvesting rainwater

Any gardener knows that a beautiful garden needs water. This is one of our most precious resources. When experiencing a drought, harvesting rainwater is the ideal way to start living green. A sound investment in the future.

Rainwater is used for watering your garden, washing your car and even flushing your toilets. It’s not suitable for human consumption unless you filter it, using rainwater for general purpose jobs reduces the strain on the municipal supply. And, you’ll save money on your water bill at the same time.

While purpose-built eco-friendly homes have water tanks installed below ground, with existing homes if not possible to install underground, they are easily installed above ground. You’ll need to take into account how much water you need, the collection area of your roof and the rainfall pattern in your area to determine what size water tank you need. Water tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you’re bound to find one that works best for your garden.

If you haven’t got the room for a water tank, there are other ways to keep your plants hydrated the green living way:

  • Use mulch and ground cover to prevent water from evaporating.
  • Create raised beds to collect water and let it soak into the ground.
  • Use a watering can to water your garden instead of a hose pipe. That way you’ll use less water.
  • Swap your direct irrigation system for a drip irrigation system. This is an efficient way of watering your plants.

Using water wisely is the cornerstone of greener living. Water tanks are a great addition to eco-friendly homes. And in times of drought and water restrictions, you’ll prolong your supply of water to keep your garden blooming.

  • Planting native plants

Choose native plants that are hardy and drought resistant. Not only do they contribute to greener living, they require less maintenance. You’ll spend less time working on your garden, and more time enjoying it.

Native plants are well-adapted to local conditions so they don’t need as much water as foreign species. Indigenous trees, shrubs and flowers are more resistant to local pests and diseases. When planting trees consider their position and type to reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs.

Evergreen trees are green all year round so use them to form a windbreak and protect your home from chilly winds in winter. In summer, they’ll keep your home cool and comfortable. While deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter making them ideal for protecting the areas of your home that get the full sun in summer. Come winter, when the leaves fall off to let the sun in to warm the room.

Using plants to control the temperature of your home means you won’t have to rely as much on air-conditioners and heaters. If you adopt this green living trick you can make your home more comfortable and save on electricity. These natural methods are something that eco-friendly houses incorporate into their design from the start. And there’s no reason why you can’t do the same in your garden.

  • Controlling pests organically

Gardens attract insects and while eco-friendly gardeners recognise that some are beneficial, others are just pests. There’s no need to abandon your green living principles with them. From home-made insecticides to encouraging natural predators, there are organic ways to stop pests from ruining your garden:

  • Natural solutions: Save your eggshells from breakfast, crush them up and spread them around the base of your plants. That will keep slugs and cut worms away. Sprinkle salt around on the soil to stop snails from taking over. Don’t go overboard though, too much salt in the soil isn’t good for your plants.
  • Clean and tidy: Pests prefer untidy gardens. It gives them the chance to settle in and start breeding. So keep your lawn manicured and your beds tidy. Remove fruits and vegetables before they start rotting and become a food source for pests; and good for the compost heap.
  • Install barriers. Physical barriers such as mesh and nets protect plants from pests. Loosely woven material protects plants while they get enough water and sunlight to grow.
  • Insect-repelling plants. Citronella, marigolds, thyme, lemongrass and spearmint are all plants with insect-repelling properties. When planted in-between your shrubs they naturally repel pests – no need for chemicals.
  • Encourage birds. Hanging a feeder gets birds to visit your garden. Birds are fond of snacking on bugs and will help control the pest population in your garden. Lizards and frogs are another natural form of pest control.

Save on expensive and damaging chemicals and use natural, greener living methods to manage pests in your garden. You’ll discover that once you start working with nature, you’ll achieve the results you want with less effort, and costs.

  • Old-fashioned garden maintenance

To maintain a garden you rely on a number of tools to keep it looking tidy. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers are an essential part of any gardener’s kit. Where possible, choose electric-powered equipment. You could invest in cordless tools to make your job easier.

Electric-powered lawn equipment creates less noise and air pollution than the gas-powered models. Electricity is also cheaper than fuel and another way of saving on costs of keeping your garden in tip-top shape. Alternatively, using a traditional push mower and get a workout while attending to your garden.

An alternative to leaf-blowers, is sweeping the driveways and sidewalks the old-fashioned way – and getting in a workout. Though it may take longer, it saves on fuel and noise pollution. Green living, though by working differently, saves costs in various ways.

And did you know that using a hoe to cultivate between your plants suppresses weeds and aerates the soil? Spending a few minutes in your garden every day and pulling weeds, by hand contains weeds and they won’t spread get out of control. Ten minutes daily beats hours of weeding once a month.

Working in your garden is as good for the garden as for your soul. By returning to greener living practices you re-discover the joy of spending time in nature.

  • Designing eco-friendly gardens

Eco-friendly homes with eco-friendly gardens is a balanced eco-system. Compliment the indoors and outdoors, by following greener living through to your outdoor spaces too. Whether working with an existing garden, or starting one from scratch using these tips create a garden that’s eco-friendly:

  • Recycle materials. If you want to build a deck or a patio, use recycled materials or a material that can be recycled such as wood or aluminium. Some manufacturers offer you a composite material made from a combination of plastic and wood particles. This type of decking is fade-resistant and easy to clean. It requires little maintenance and looks attractive.
  • Plan your planting. Learn about native plants to make your garden attractive. The local nursery is able to help pick out indigenous plants that are ideal for our gardens. Native plants will help you to cut down on water usage, repel local pests. Have a beautiful garden. Use a combination of sun-loving and shade-loving plants appropriately. The more you know about the plants you want to use, the better your landscaping.
  • Limit your lawn area. Lawns require frequently watering and care to keep them looking at their best. Consider whether you need a large lawn and if you don’t, experiment with other kinds or ground covers that don’t need as much water or maintenance. Natural grasses are just as attractive and are suited to droughts and our particular weather conditions.
  • Make maintenance easy: Designing your garden in way that makes it easy to look after. Remember that green living is convenience. If you want to harvest rainwater for use in your garden, or start a composting heap, set aside space for these projects. Incorporate them from the start and make them part of your garden. Reduce the need for gas-guzzling or power-sapping garden tools. Working on your garden is a pleasure when approaching it differently.

When adopting green living gardening principles, changes the way you see your garden. Eco-friendly homes are about convenience, saving costs and being environmentally friendly. Everyone benefits when becoming mindful of how resources are used. Explore ways that you’ll enjoy and start a small project putting your ideas into practice.

Affordable and eco-friendly ways to keep your home cool this summer

Affordable and eco-friendly ways to keep your home cool this summer

Are you getting bored with your winter wardrobe? Tired of having hearty winter stews and soups for dinner every night? Well, it won’t be long before you’re complaining about the heat and searching for ways to cool down. This summer, instead of turning on the air-conditioner for instant relief from the heat, try some of these green living tricks instead.

  • Keep your curtains and blinds closed.

Did you know that up to 30% of unwanted heat comes from your windows? If you keep your blinds and curtains closed, you can stop the heat coming in and turning your home into a mini-greenhouse. It’s a simple tip that can lower the indoor temperature by a few degrees.

  • Make an eco-friendly air-conditioner.

Just because you decided to try living green doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Fans don’t use as much electricity as air-conditioners, so try this handy tip. Fill a mixing bowl with ice (you could also us an ice-pack) and position it at an angle in front of your fan. When you switch the fan on, you’ll be hit with a blast of super-cooled air. It works like a charm!

  • Get a breeze going.

This is essential for hot summer nights when you’re battling to fall asleep. Open windows on opposite sides of your room, or house to let the cool air flow through. As the earth cools down during the night, the air gets cooler too. With a gentle breeze wafting over you as you drift off, you’ll drop off in no time.

  • Sleep on a buckwheat pillow.

Another tip to help you get a good night’s sleep in the hot summer months is to invest in a buckwheat pillow. Unlike synthetic fibres, buckwheat hulls allow the air to flow through the pillow. They don’t trap your body heat and you won’t wake up with a sweaty head in the morning.

  • Set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise.

You don’t have to abandon all your creature comforts for the sake of greener living. Make the most of your ceiling fan by adjusting it every season to achieve the effect you want. By setting the blades to rotate counter-clockwise in summer, warm air that accumulates near the ceiling will be blown away. You’ll have the benefit of cooling breeze to help you beat the heat.

  • Keep your cool.

It’s easier to lower your body temperature than trying to cool your whole house. So keep a supply of ice-cold drinks, ice lollies and cold cloths on hand. Add ice to your drinks and dress in loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Water helps you regulate your body temperature, so keep hydrated.

  • Turn on your bathroom fan.

By pulling the hot air out of your bathroom after a steamy bath or shower, you can stop that heat from seeping out into the rest of your home. The exhaust fan in your kitchen is used the same way.

  • Change your incandescent bulbs for CFLs.

Incandescent bulbs are energy hungry and spill almost 90% of their energy in the form of heat. On the other hand, CFLs use less power to generate light and they don’t spill as much energy. You’ll be saving money and living greener if you make the switch.

  • Have a braai.

South Africans need little encouragement to heed this suggestion. When using your oven it sends the temperature in your kitchen soaring. Make a fire outside and enjoy some al fresco dining in your garden. A different way to enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening?

  • Experiment with no-cook recipes.

If you really want to save electricity, money and keep your home cool, try out some no-cook recipes. There are plenty of tasty dishes to concoct without ever turning your oven on. If you’re rather cook, how about using a slow cooker. Prepare your meal in the morning and return to a delicious meal at night without the heat.

These little tips helps beat the heat. And if you’re prepared to spend a bit of time and money, there are some bigger projects to cool your house down for the many summers to come.

How to heat-proof your entire home for summer

Eco-friendly houses use green technology to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. Before the foundation is laid, carefully planning ensures that the house is orientated correctly. In the Southern Hemisphere, homes that face north are naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The orientation of the house makes the most of the natural sunlight that falls as the earth rotates.

And eco-friendly homes are insulated. Insulation prevents warm air escaping in winter and hot air from entering the home in summer. To help maintain an even temperature indoors, a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system is ideal. It uses little energy and allows for the management of individual temperature zones. Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling systems comprise of a network of pipes to pump warm and cool water under the floor. That means walking bare feet on a tiled floor in the middle of winter without discomfort.

With this technology, eco-friendly houses are expensive. Though you recoup your costs with excellent savings on electricity, water and maintenance. If you’re not ready to invest in an eco-friendly home, there are some things you can do to embrace greener living and keep your home cool.

  • Insulate your ceiling.

It’s one of the best investments you can make. Use an environmentally-friendly material. Reap the benefits of ceiling insulation. It makes your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. You’ll save electricity and have a comfortable indoor environment to enjoy for years.

  • Insulate the rest of your home.

Take a weekend, grab some caulk and weather stripping and set to work patching up gaps in your window and door frames. You’d be surprised what a difference it will make to the temperature in your home throughout the year.

  • Get a blanket for your geyser.

By insulating your geyser you’ll stop the heat it radiates from escaping into your home. And, your geyser will be more energy efficient so you’ll save on electricity every month. Another financial benefits of living green.

  • Add awnings to your windows.

Not only do awnings make your home attractive to potential buyers, they’ll also stop the sun from shining right into the room in summer. Cooling and attractive, awnings are a great additional to your arsenal to contain high temperatures.

  • Plant trees and shrubs.

What could be a better example of green living than planting some carbon-dioxide loving shrubbery? And if you plant them in the right place, you’ll keep your home cooler too. Planting just three trees in strategic positions helps reduce your heating and cooling costs. Place them in front of windows that get the sun in summer, or use them as wind breaks to protect your home from icy wind in winter.

  • Paint your roof a light colour.

A light coloured roof reflects the heat of the sun and reduces the temperature inside your home. You could also paint your terrace in a lighter colour to increase the effect.

  • Go for double-glazed windows.

Double-glazing refers to a window made of two panes of glass with a space in-between. This space could be filled with gas, or left empty. Double-glazed windows help to insulate your home. As with other forms of insulation, these types of windows help keep eco-friendly homes cool in summer and warm in winter.

  • Install a solar attic fan.

As the name implies, these fans run on solar energy which makes them perfect for living green. They run quietly, require virtually no maintenance and help to cool your home down. Plus, they’re not that difficult to install.

  • Add a roof vent.

Add a roof vent to help with the airflow and reduce the amount of heat that accumulates in your ceiling space. You could have a go at installing it yourself to save money.

Implementing one or more of these tips will go a long way to make your home cooler in summer without adding to your carbon footprint. Living green does not mean you have to sacrifice modern conveniences. It’s about thinking differently to benefit your quality of life while saving.

Turning traditional homes into eco-friendly homes does require spending quite a bit of money. However, the expenses are recouped via savings on future running costs and maintenance. You’ll discover there are other benefits when adopting eco-friendly habits.

Urban Veggies Hydroponics Transcript

Urban Veggies Hydroponics Transcript

Title: Transcript of Interview with Eleazer Strachan, Urban Veggies
Presented by: Emmanuel van der Meulen
Guest Speaker: Eleazer Strachan (Oz)
Date: 29th May 2017
Number of Speakers: 2
File Duration: 28:54
Transcriptionist: Jacqui Jonk

Links are at the end of the transcript.

Transcript Break Down:
00:08 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.
02:08 Introduction to Hydroponics.
03:13 Why does hydroponics work so well?
05:01 Introduction to Urban Veggies.
08:50 How did Urban Vegetables start?
13:03 Why hydroponics as opposed to other growing methods?
16:02 Where can people get such systems?
17:08 What does the future hold for Urban Veggies?
19:36 Any limitations to the systems?
20:45 What are the different systems Urban Veggies offers?
24:31 Tell us a bit more about your employment project?
27:25 Wrap Up.

00:08 Beginning of recorded material, Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.

Emmanuel: Welcome to Radio Live Green Smart and to our discussion on hydroponics and the development of organic urban gardens using grow systems. You are more than welcome to call us on +27 that’s South Africa, 082 651 4273 or on Skype, Emmanuel.van.der.Meulen. I’ll read that to you again (NATO phonetic spelling follows) and the lines are open, you are more than welcome to phone with anything, any questions related to green, green consciousness etc. I am your host Emmanuel.

And some back ground on Radio Live Green Smart, it’s a forum to discuss green living and eco-friendly living and everything related to eco or green living. And importantly it’s a forum to discuss disrespect to the environment first hand, bring that to us and we will take it further and assist with the environmental disrespect, use the contact us on the website, please provide clear information. Top

02:08 Introduction to Hydroponics.

Now to tonight’s discussion, hydroponics. The word hydroponics comes from the Latin and means working water. Simply it’s the art of growing plants without soil. When most people think of hydroponics they think of plants grown with their roots suspended into water with no growing medium. This is just 1 type of hydroponic gardening known as nutrient film technique, there are several variations of nutrient film technique used around the world and it is a very popular method of growing hydroponically. What most people don’t realise is that there are countless methods and variations of hydroponic gardening, tonight we will explore some variations as we delve into the topic. Top

03:13 Why does hydroponics work so well?

That’s simple, if you give a plant exactly what it needs, when it needs it in the amount it needs it the plant will be as healthy as genetically possible. With hydroponics, this is an easy task, with soil it’s a lot more difficult. With hydroponics, the plants are grown in an inert growing medium and a perfectly balanced pH adjusted nutrient solution is delivered to the roots in a highly soluble form. This allows the plant to uptake its food with very little effort as opposed to soil where the roots must search out the nutrients and extract them, faster better growth and much greater yields are just some of the many reasons that hydroponics is being adapted around the world for commercial food production as well as growing a number of home gardeners. Ozzie who is the owner of Urban Veggies will give us some more information on this very interesting topic. He will tell us about different grow systems and his vision for hydroponics in an urban area setting. Welcome Ozzie to our radio Live Green Smart interview and discussion.

Ozzie: Thank you, thanks for having me.

Emmanuel: You are more than welcome; would you like to give us a small introduction of yourself and the company Urban Veggies. Top

05:01 Introduction to Urban Veggies

Ozzie: [Ah] yes sure, [um] we basically Urban Veggies, I’m Ozzie, I’m from the Free State so [uh] what happens is I moved to the city where there’s not a lot of space to grow anything. If you on the 14th floor of a metropolitan building you would still be able to grow anything you want, veggies and flowers and whatever you want [um] we just using the principal of growing it directly into the water instead of growing it into your normal soil [inaudible]. So, coming from the Free State I decided veggies are my passion so I started a company called Urban Veggies where I actually designed the systems and like you mentioned you get a nutrient film solution system and then you get a deep water culture and there’s a couple of other ones but I’ve combined those 2 specifically to produce the best quality of veggies and the quickest growth without any chemicals, just using organic chemicals to produce the veggies and that’s where Urban Veggies basically comes from and started from.

Emmanuel: Ok Ozzie, thank you, can I just [uh] ask that you maybe speak a little bit closer to the phone, you are coming through but [uh] it could be a little bit clearer.

Ozzie: [uh] yes is that better?

Emmanuel: That’s better, yes. Ok, so me being vegetarian and wanting to grow veggies at home are you saying that this would be, give me more [more] advantages of just planting it in soil is that what you saying?

Ozzie: [uh] yes, your production is a lot bigger in quantity, let’s say spinach would be taking about 6-9 months to grow up to a stage where you would be able to harvest (Emmanuel can be heard agreeing in the background) with hydroponics you would be able to get the same results in a time span of about 3 months so automatically that is [its] a lot quicker.

Emmanuel: Ok

Ozzie: And also, that would help with putting your nutrients in, which is an organic nutrient, helping your plant grow and that would actually be in a controlled environment where you see every day, where you actually sit every day and see ok your veggies are growing very well and you don’t need pesticides because there’s movement and there’s people around. And your nutrients also include [inaudible] supply it contains a garlic sub strain and from there on it also repels insects and bugs that would normally eat and harm your vegetables.

Emmanuel: I [I] see, when you say in a controlled environment are you saying that it should like be in a green house, or in what sense do you mean a controlled environment?

Ozzie: A controlled environment is where you still have your natural sun but it’s not out in the fields where you have other bushes and other plants that would actually work against attracting certain insects. So, let’s say if you are growing spring onion and lettuce together you won’t get the aphids that you would normally get on lettuce cause with spring onion the flavour and the scent would use a natural cure of getting away from all the aphids going onto your lettuce. Top

08:50 How did Urban Vegetables start?

Emmanuel: Ok, very interesting. Right, so coming back to another point, [um] how did Urban Vegetables start?

Ozzie: Well [uh] I was staying in a small space with only a little balcony and still the cost of veggies has gone up, use tomatoes, in the last couple of years you could buy a bag for R2,50 and it increased up to R6-R7 at that stage and I just decided [ok] I’ll save a bit of money and grow my own tomatoes and lettuce which is basic [basic] sandwich ingredients which would already save you quite a bit of shopping and that hassle of Oh, I’ve run out so I’m going to have to run to the store. What I had done was just walk outside get from my balcony and made myself a sandwich so that’s one of the reasons I started the whole company as well. Then I had a friend who was a plumber and he said no, let’s put a certain type of piping together and have a whole system running. So, I designed the system around 2 systems using an idea that already existed [uh] this one you can actually run on solar panels and without any hassles just plug it in, put your water in and leave it to grow.

Emmanuel:  Oh you mean the solar panel is [is uh is] connected to the water pump or where does the solar panel fit into it?

Ozzie: The solar panel actually connects to your water pump (Emmanuel says Ok) and having your veggies in water you would need oxygenation so a lot of the oxygen would come from either the plants or something that produces air or oxygenates [um] but in this case because your root is underneath the water where there is not a lot of air your solar panel would just power your pump, your water pump and aircon for you.

Emmanuel: Ok, so that means [um] even the cost, small cost of electricity is saved in this way?

Ozzie: That’s also saved yes, and for your nutrients, you don’t have to buy nutrients, I also supply just basically a kitchen scrap bucket [um] which produces a worm tea, many people know about the worm tea and that [uh] and that [that] is enough nutrients in a well-balanced area where your water flows permanently and as soon as the sun comes up then your water gets aerated and you add a bit of the nutrients and make sure your veggies are happy.

Emmanuel: Yes, I understand so just by the way [uh] seeing as we are slowly [slowly] going international with Radio Live Green Smart how do you get you product to customers at this stage?

Ozzie: At this stage, basically my product comes in a box already so what happens is you place your order [um] its either online or you can email me directly and I already have a box of products you can just give me your address and Ill post that one for you. The postage is about R150-R200 but if you order it, it comes to your door either via courier or post, you can collect it at the post office or have it delivered to your door or office or wherever.

Emmanuel: Ok, understood. So, international it won’t [it won’t] be a problem?

Ozzie: It won’t be a problem going internationally.

Emmanuel: Ok, Ozzie so far it sounds very [very] interesting, I think my wife is missing out on a very interesting topic so [uh] rest assured we will have another talk. And then just going further, we’ve more or less covered this but maybe you want to add to why hydroponics as opposed to other growing methods? Top

13:03 Why hydroponics as opposed to other growing methods?

Ozzie: Well the basic idea of hydroponics is quite [quite] nice cause it doesn’t matter where you stay or if there’s soil around or whatever you need to grow a normal plant, with your hydroponics you can basically put a system up and know exactly OK, in just 2 weeks I’ll be able to harvest from this plant and then start producing your next one already. You can basically cycle your plants so you always have food around the year, so certain seasons you grow a couple of different things so let’s say in winter lettuces and in summer you just use summer lettuces so you always have lettuce and the greens you mostly use. If you put a bigger system up there’s more variety of different veggies, the smaller systems are for something that would be a small system and you know you eat a lot of spring onions then you know you have spring onions all year or you have whatever veggies you are prefer the whole year. Anthe maintenance, there’s no maintenance really and with a normal plant you add water every second day or every second day but in this case you just plug it in and come back to harvest. You make sure your plant is still growing but there’s no physical effort. I went away for 3 months [inaudible] and when I came back the only problem was the harvesting, it was amazing.

Emmanuel: Ok, and [and] the seeds and I get that I need seeds but can I start off with small plants or do I need seeds for your system?

Ozzie: You can start off with both of them [um] I recommend for quick growing rather go to your local nursery and see what they have, they would also know what’s in season and they will stock what’s in season so you can just basically take from there and add that into your system if you taking seeds it might take a week or 2 or a little bit longer.

Emmanuel: I see, ok right, this is sounding more and more interesting. I suppose I can [I can] grow plants like that as well?

Ozzie: You can grow plants like that as well.

Emmanuel: Ok, what about fruit trees? I suppose I’m stretching it too far now?

Ozzie: [um] I managed to successfully grow a couple of fruit trees, for some or other reason [inaudible] figs very well, unfortunately after the season the fig tree dies out.

Emmanuel: Ok, so it’s not impossible?

Ozzie: It’s not impossible, I think we still have to look into that a bit more but let’s say for a mission to Mars, that’s 1 way of thinking about it. Top

16:02 Where can people get such systems?

Emmanuel: (Chuckles) Definitely, yes, for sure. So, you’ve now mentioned where [where] people can get such systems [uh] so we’d have to explore that a little bit more but you have mentioned where in principal, we will cover the contact details shortly.

Ozzie: Yes, there’s also a website available if you log onto urbanveggies.co.za and there’s a Facebook page as well and that will give you all the details also gives you a couple of nice phots and a bit of an idea of what the system looks like it’s got a very organic feel and it blends in basically a wooden look.

Emmanuel: Excellent and you said its Urban Veggies, one word.co.za.

Ozzie: .co.za

Emmanuel: And its veggies (spelt out).

Ozzie: Yes Top

17:08 What does the future hold for Urban Veggies?

Emmanuel: Ok, interesting, and what would you say the future holds for Urban Veggies? Are we going to Mars with it?

Ozzie: Um hopefully we taking a proper sample with (chuckles).

Emmanuel: OK, that sounds excellent. But from your point of view, what does the future hold?

Ozzie: [um] with everything [inaudible] with the equilibrium has been thrown out a little and this would allow you to constantly know you have fresh veggies on your balcony and in your house, we can also install growing cupboards and it just opens so many doors  [um] to be self-sustainable in a way where you can walk to your cupboard instead of having a fridge with veggies in it that’s already been cut, you still have your cupboard with veggies that you can cut from and you know tomorrow I’ll come back and they’ll still be growing and they’ll still be edible without having to worry that you’ve bought a bag of spinach and in 2 weeks’ time you have you  buy another 1 now you have a little plantation in your cupboard so in the future I think it’s going to be very [inaudible] good.

Emmanuel: It certainly sounds that way, as a cost saver as well. Cost saver, resource saver, the whole lot. Ozzie on your website urbanveggies.co.za so 2 things that I would just like to ask about; do you there describe how your system works, all the things we’ve been discussing and you have an easy purchasing system on your website?

Ozzie: I do have an EFT system and PayPal and pay links as well (Emmanuel in the background Ok) which comes directly onto me so if you order today in 2 days, 3 days depending on post you’ll have your system right by your doorstep and there’s also explanations, little video clips on showing you what to plant, and with your system you’ll get a growing tip guide which will tell you Ok, spinach is an all year plant, watercress is a summer grower and lettuce is a winter grower so you have all your details to get you sorted and start it up. Top

19:36 Any limitations to the systems?

Emmanuel: Yeah, and any limitations of what I can’t grow in your system?

Ozzie: My specific systems, unfortunately potatoes, any root veg which is a hard-underground root veg, you won’t be able to grow, but we grew carrots a lot of other things you would be able to. Onions do very well with my systems, beetroot and radish, anything that is on top of the soil but still in the soil directly.

Emmanuel: I understand yeah.

Ozzie: Limitations, unfortunately potatoes which I know are a staple in Ireland [inaudible].

Emmanuel: And I suppose I can even grow rice in it? Or am I pushing it a bit?

Ozzie: You can definitely grow rice.

Emmanuel: Ok, that’s interesting and [and] on your website or in your kit, I’m not sure what you call it – the product, do you [uh] have instructions of how I set it up and how much space I need and so on? Top

20:45 What are the different systems Urban Veggies offers?

Ozzie: I normally deal with 3 different systems. The first little system is basically a plug and place where you add your water, it’s got a little instruction that says hey ok you need to put 7.5 litres of water in there and this amount of nutrients and just add a plug and then basically let it grow so it runs off electricity. The other one is a mountable system so it comes with all the instructions of how to mount it on the wall. The third one I call a herb planter, which grows 6 herb plants and is idea for something in the kitchen or something outside of the kitchen, where the others grow 24 plants and then I also have a 12 planter which is designed for more bigger veggies or like I say spinach and a little bit more not only compared to something you would use for instance parsley and you cut out some of it and it will still grow for a couple of years afterwards. The bigger one is basically designed for plants that you cut out and reuse [reuse] the space to grow another plant in there.

Emmanuel: So [um] and your website and the package that arrives at my door step describes all of this even for a novice how to get started and so on?

Ozzie: Even for a novice if you have no clue what’s going on (Emmanuel says that’s fantastic in the background) have a look on the website and that will give you all the information we do.

Emmanuel: Ozzie I’d like to (Ozzie interrupts).

Ozzie: Yes, I am also opening a shop which would be selling complete products so you can come in and have a chat with me, I’m in Melville.

Emmanuel: Oh, so you just around the corner, you moved from the Free State?

Ozzie: I’ve moved from the Free State, I’m in Johannesburg.

Emmanuel: Oh, so we can come and visit your shop? You have opened your shop, or you in the process of opening it?

Ozzie: At the moment, I’m busy with the shop fitting so what I will be supplying is you can come in and buy a grow system, buy the nutrients and buy any extras and add ons you need and then I’ll also, I’ve got a little hydro farm so you can also buy your fresh veggies from me.

Emmanuel: I see, so it’s a all in 1 shop?

Ozzie: It’s a all in 1, I’m all about veggies.

Emmanuel: Yeah, very [very] nice just by the way, it’s got nothing to do with me but are you by any chance vegetarian?

Ozzie: [uh] no [no, no] I do eat meat.

Emmanuel: Oh ok [ok] that was just being curious. Ozzie [um] just the nutrients this is the second the though just occurred to me, these nutrients do you have to get them from you, can you get them from anywhere? Are they safe?

Ozzie: [uh] they are 100% safe [um] you get a couple of different ones, you get the organic ones which is basically made from plant materials and [inaudible] the you do get other companies that do have more chemical nutrients ones which are made from chemicals mixed with organic materials and then we also have [vino?] well some of my vegan customers they’ve asked me for not having something like a [inaudible] emulsion which you would buy from Mica or a local nursery and you would be able to use that as well but some people prefer using organic 100% organic veggies. Top

24:31 Tell us a bit more about your employment project?

Emmanuel: Yeah, it certainly makes sense. I’m curious about your, just moving on [um] I’m curious about your employment project, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Ozzie: What I’ve recently started is [uh], I’ve seen a lot of unemployed people alongside the road [inaudible] so what I’ve done is created a platform for them [um] what I’ve decided to do is hand them a couple of seeds some small seed packets, you can see the man on the Facebook profile I have and you’ll know today he is selling a certain type of seed and I donate all the seed to him and that helps him make a living and he can buy his bread for the day.

Emmanuel: [yew] that sounds very interesting, all the best with that project.

Ozzie: It’s going to be interesting.

Emmanuel: And it surely sounds win-win to Urban Veggies and also to the [to the] person you basically employ now.

Ozzie: [uh] yes, it’s basic employment and the more he sells, the more he earns. Some of the guys are standing on the street corners for weeks in and weeks out, we all know them and we give them a rand or 5 every now and then and you know next time he might not be there but mostly the ones that are always there I’ve come to know them so we’ll be able to start with the basic guys and from there on hopefully we getting to a bigger [inaudible] with that and helping my fellow man up.

Emmanuel: Yeah, that’s very interesting. Well there’s another side to it also that it might [it might] raise interest with them and they could then feed themselves with a nutritious meal.

Ozzie: That could also be a good idea.

Emmanuel: I mean certainly that will become interested in this and maybe even at home no matter where they stay they can set up 1 of your systems.

Ozzie: Yes

Emmanuel: Maybe it’s a bit farfetched, but I am sure it’s not impossible.

Ozzie: I don’t think it’s impossible. Top

27:25 Wrap Up

Emmanuel: Ok, very interesting and well done and all the best.

Ozzie: Well thank you very much and thanks for the opportunity.

Emmanuel: Ok, anything else from your side? We reaching the end of the discussion now. Anything else from your side that we missed that you would like to add?

Ozzie: No, I can’t think of anything at the moment, but if there’s any questions give me a call or email, all my details are on Urbanveggies.co.za.

Emmanuel: Ok, first class, and I certainly would like us to discuss [uh] get together on the radio and discuss something else, some other topic in depth and maybe you can give is a feedback on your employment project for a future discussion.

Ozzie: Yes 100%.

Emmanuel: So that was Ozzie from Urban Veggies. Ozzie thank you very [very] much for interesting information [um] it’s an eye opener for me and I am sure that this is something for the future.

Ozzie: Oh, definitely.

Emmanuel: Yeah, thank you again.

Ozzie: Thanks, have a good evening.

Emmanuel: Likewise.

Ozzie: I will do.

We reaching the end now, I’m your host Emmanuel and over to the music, enjoy.

Links:

www.livegreensmart.com

www.urbanveggies.co.za

End of Transcript Top

Green living hot water tips

Green living hot water tips

When our electricity bill is high, and we don’t know why, it helps to take a closer look at the way we use hot water. We might think of our morning shower as a necessity and not a luxury, though when it lasts more than say, 5 minutes, we’re literally pouring money down the drain. The good news is, we can stop the flood and adopt green living principles that will reduce our electricity bill. And we won’t have to give up our morning ablutions.

 

How much can we save on hot water?

It really depends on how far we’re willing to go and what our budget is. Without spending any extra money we can cut our water-heating costs by 10%. If we have a modest budget we can save 30% on hot water. And if we’re willing to invest substantially in green technology, there’s no limit to how much we can save.

Change small habits to save 10% on our electricity bill

When ready to start saving money on our electricity bill right now, all we need do is change some habits. That’s all that green living really means—being aware of the way we use limited resources and using them carefully. Here are four things we can do right now that won’t cost us a penny:

Turning the geyser down to 55°-60°

Check the thermostat on the geyser. Most geysers are set to 65° or higher. That’s hot enough to scald us. Turn it down at least 5° or 10° and we won’t even notice the difference. For every 5° we reduce the temperature, we save up to 10% on our heating costs. Proof that living green helps us save money.

Turning our geyser’s temperature down has other benefits. We’ll protect our family from burning themselves (essential with small children) and we’ll increase the lifespan of our geyser. Don’t get carried away, though. The temperature needs to be at least 55° to stop bacteria from breeding.

We might get a bit dirty climbing about in the attic, nevertheless, that is the start of savings each month.

Cutting down on shower time

A 10-minute shower can use as much as 65 litres of hot water. By reducing our shower time by two minutes we’ll need about 12 litres of hot water less. A family of four would save thousands of Rands on electricity and water every year by spending a little less time in the shower. And don’t be tempted to bath instead. A bath uses more water than a shower.

Another little trick; is taking a bucket into the shower. Use it to collect the grey water that normally disappears down the drain and use it to water the garden. It won’t help save on electricity though; it’s a way of living green and to save another precious resource.

Switch off the geyser when away for prolonged periods

Going on holiday this summer? Stop at the DB board and flip the geyser switch to the off position. If nobody is around to use hot water, why let the element heat up a few times every day? This is the easiest way to save on electricity and with a geyser timer, why not switch the geyser off during peak periods even when not on holiday. Just don’t forget to switch the geyser on again when back, then give it a few hours to heat up again. Eco-friendly homes enable everyone to enjoy the benefits of modern conveniences while reducing costs and reducing strain on the national supply.

Use cold water for the laundry

Unless our clothes are heavily soiled, we can wash them in cold water to clean them. While our washing machine doesn’t draw hot water from the geyser, this little tip helps reduce our electricity bill. Green living is all about the small habits that make a big difference.

Waiting until we have a full load of clothes or dirty dishes before switching on the washing machine or dishwasher are further savings. The more efficiently we use these appliances, the more we save.

Spend less than R1000 to save 30%

With spare cash, investing in these tips and boost our hot water savings by as much as 30%. Imagine such savings on electricity every month. Here are some ideas to get started on the road to living green:

Installing low-flow shower heads

They really aren’t that difficult to install and won’t need the services of a professional plumber. Doing the ‘Bucket Test’ to determine the efficiency of our current shower heads, is even easier. Hold a bucket under the shower spray for 12 seconds and see if we collect more than 2 litres. By installing a low-flow shower head we save a lot of money (and water and electricity). As low-flow shower heads aerates the water we still get the same blast of water so our morning ablutions are as luxurious.

Put a timer on the geyser

Though this tip costs a bit more, the savings we’ll enjoy is worth every penny. Installing a programmable timer on our geyser and setting it to switch off during peak periods, such as 6am – 8am and 5pm-9pm, creates another saving. Living green means we are conscious of our consumption, and looking at creating saving of our month costs, while incidentally conserving resources of the planet.

We’ll need to call out an electrician to install the timer, and, at the same time adding the geyser thermostat control. That save us from climbing into the roof every time we want to adjust the temperature of our geyser. And when having such handy features it’s easy to manage the geyser: Being able to monitor and adjust our hot water usage to save electricity costs. More convenience with our hot water.

Invest in insulation

A geyser blanket will cost between R200 and R400 and pipe insulation won’t cost much more than R100. Every penny is worth it because it stops the heat escaping from the tank. That means using less electricity to heat the water in the tank to the desired temperature. Eco-friendly homes make comprehensive use of available resources such as insulation. (Ceiling, exterior walls, floor, double-glazing, water pipes.)

Buy energy-efficient appliances

When in the market for a new dishwasher or washing machine, check the Energy Star ratings. Modern appliances are designed to use less water and less electricity. We’ll save on two fronts and be implementing further green living features.

Go big and save up to 50% or more on hot water costs

When taking full advantage of reducing the costs of our hot water bill, and decide to take up green living technologies we’ll have a huge impact on the monthly running costs of our homes. And reap the benefits from right away as well as adding value to our home.

Installing a heat pump – water heating and cooling

Heat pumps are remarkably efficient and use only a small amount of electricity. They’re about the size of a medium to large air-conditioning unit.

A fan draws hot air into the heat pump and passes it over a refrigerant. Because the refrigerant boils at low temperatures, it transfers this heat to a condenser coil – which in turn heats up water. The hot water continuously replaces the cooled down water in the hot water tank.

Dual function heat pumps are particularly versatile because they have three different modes. They heat water, cool water down, or they cool and heat water at the same time. This means twice as much efficiency is achieved. By installing this type of heat pump it easily produces the required water temperature, either separately or simultaneously.

Because heat pumps use electricity, they work just as well on cloudy and rainy days. Installing a heat pump is viable indoors and outdoors, as long as the unit has space around it for the air to circulate. Heat pumps don’t require much maintenance. A heat pump that is properly maintained will last more than 15 years. This makes them an ideal choice for those who want to strike a balance between greener living and convenience.

Go with a solar water heater

Though solar water heaters are expensive, consider their savings in monthly electricity costs. With a solar water heater we aren’t subjected to increasing electricity costs. A family of four would recoup their investment in a solar water heater in 4-6 years. When looking at it like that, the idea of a solar water heater is a sound investment. And they form part of green living.

Enough roof space is needed to accommodate the solar collector. The tank is either fitted on the roof alongside the collector or, inside the roof. A pump circulates water between the collector and the tank.

A solar water heater provides free hot water all year round. We’re not affected by power cuts or load shedding. This system doesn’t produce any kind of pollution. In fact, we’ll be reducing our carbon footprint and embracing greener living. To top it, solar water heaters require little maintenance and last as long as 15-20 years before they need repairs or components.

When a roof gets sufficient sunlight during the year, is big enough to house the collector and the tank there’s every reason to go ahead with installing a solar water heater. As an alternative to the favoured heat pump system, solar water heaters provide and alternative water heating system to eco-friendly houses.

Whether opting for a heat pump or a solar water heater, with a substantial investment we’ll have access to hot water while saving electricity costs each month.

How many of these ideas should we use? One option is to start small, no-cost changes to see an immediate difference to our monthly electricity bill. Putting the saved money aside or invest in some insulation for the conventional geyser. That way we save until able to afford a solar water heater. The other option, though pricey is, a purpose built green smart home.

Urban Veggies Hydroponics Podcast

Urban Veggies Hydroponics Podcast

      Urban-Veggies-Hydroponics