Growing a garden when you have no yard

Living in today's digital world, where screens are an ever-present part of our lives, taking a leisurely stroll through the park is becoming more a rarity than a past-time; playing Frisbee with friends is considered a throwback experience; and sitting on the veranda to watch a sunset is something only old people do. Yet, as humanity allows itself to continue being held hostage by electronic devices, there is a growing movement to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. And one of the first places that comes to mind for "digital refugees" to flee is the back yard garden. Yet, what if you have no yard? Is it still possible to have a garden?

Yes! Just because you don't have a sprawling garden plot on Route 66 doesn't mean you can't have a proud garden on floor 66. The secret it to garden using containers. Here's how to get started:

(1) Get pots that fit the crop

Don't underestimate the amount of space your plants need to grow. Plants need enough room for roots to deeply take hold. For example, if you were to plant bell peppers, a quart-size pot will suffice. However, if you were to plant corn (which is possible to do indoors in a pot), you'll need 5-gallon containers for each plant.

Avoid unglazed clay pots. Unglazed clay pots tend to get brittle over the course of a season. Instead, opt for plastic pots. If you insist on using a clay pot, at least consider layering by having your plants in a plastic pot that is then inserted into the clay pot.

(2) Maximize sunlight

Your plants want and need sunlight--a full day's worth every day. Keep your plants in rooms that receive enough sun. If you need to move your plants during the day, that's ok. It's one of the benefits of container gardening!

(3) Use potting mix

Don't use plain old dirt. Use potting mix in your containers. Potting mix is specially formulated to hold moisture better and usually comes with the appropriate blend of nutrients necessary for your garden to thrive. Also, you'll never have a weed problem because potting mix is bagged weed-free!

(4) Get a hose that connects to your sink

This can be fun. When buying your high-rise apartment, you probably never thought you'd need a garden hose. Yet, you'll find a short garden hose to be very convenient in keeping your container garden watered each day.

You can connect a garden hose to a sink by using an adapter typically available at any home improvement store like Ace, TruValue, or the Home Depot.

If you'd rather not have a garden hose, that's ok. You'll just have to make repeat trips with a watering can.

(5) Consider adding hanging baskets

There's more to your apartment's space than just floor space. Use the air space to potentially DOUBLE the amount of crop production. Some plants, like tomatoes and many kinds of herbs, grow very well from hanging baskets. Not only will hanging baskets increase your production potential, but they can also be very beautiful.

(6) Use eco-friendly household cleaners around indoor plants

With an indoor garden, you'll want to be very sensitive to the kind of cleaners you use. Many household cleaners contain harmful chemicals that can harm or even kill plants. Furthermore, once your plants start producing fruit for consumption, you'll definitely want to avoid spraying anything harmful around your garden. Melaleuca products are all eco-friendly as are products available from eco-friendly stores like Natural Grocers.

Health Check: how to get off the couch and into exercise

Jordan Smith, University of Newcastle

Current guidelines suggest Aussie adults should accrue at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. However, 60% of us fail to meet this recommendation, and around one in six aren’t doing any regular exercise at all.

If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Studies show that any amount of physical activity is better than none. So there’s a strong rationale for getting off the couch, even if 150 minutes seems impossible.