Urban Farmer

If you’re ready to take one giant leap beyond just growing a few tomato plants, take a look at the resources the Des Moines Public Library has for you. Discover how bounteous your own postage-stamp-sized yard or tiny apartment balcony can be.

  • The Cook's Herb Garden [e-book]
    Jeff Cox and Marie-Pierre Moine
    Provides recipes, step-by-step photographs on how to plant, nurture, harvest, and store herbs, and flavor charts that list the best herbs to partner with popular ingredients.
  • Organic Gardening [e-book]
    Geoff Hamilton
    Features how to grow delicious, organic healthy produce and beautiful plants, while turning your garden into a chemical-free haven for children, pets, and wildlife.
  • The Permaculture City
    Toby Hemenway
    The surprisingly green city -- Permaculture design with an urban twist -- Designing the urban home garden -- Techniques for the urban home garden -- Strategies for gardening in community -- Water wisdom, metropolitan style -- Energy solutions for homes and communities -- Livelihood, real wealth, and becoming valuable -- Placemaking and the empowered community -- Tools for designing resilient cities.
  • City Chicks
    Patricia Foreman
    [print] Learn about keeping chickens as garden helpers, compost creators, bio-recyclers, and local food suppliers. How-to detail on keeping, employing, growing food for, and enjoying backyard poultry.
  • Your Farm in the City
    Lisa Taylor
    The most complete book on urban farming, covering everything from growing organic produce and raising chickens, to running a small farm on a city lot or in a suburban backyard.
  • Little House in the Suburbs
    Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin
    Gardens, goats and chickens in the suburbs? Absolutely! The easy-to-follow advice in this book will show you everything you need to know to enjoy an abundant, independent life on food and products grown in your own back yard.
  • Permaculture in Pots
    Juliet Kemp
    Learn how to get started with whatever space you have available. Month by month we learn what to grow on a balcony or in a container garden, using low impact permaculture principles.
  • The New American Homestead
    John Tullock
    Offers a wealth of information about homesteading—a lifestyle of simple, agrarian self-sufficiency—from raising chickens, bees, and other animals to gardening in earth-friendly ways to canning, preserving, home brewing, and cheese making.
  • The Everything Backyard Farming Book
    Neil Shelton
    Whether you're a first-timer or an experienced gardener, this book has all you need, from growing fruits and vegetables to raising animals to preserving and storing food.
  • The Backyard Homestead
    Carleen Madigan (ed.)
    Grow vegetables and fruits, keep bees, raise chickens, goats, or even a cow. When the harvest is in, learn how to cook, preserve, cure, brew, or pickle the fruits of your labor. A quarter-acre yard can produce 1,400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 280 pounds of pork, 75 pounds of nuts.
Image of vegetables

Starting Seeds Indoors

It's time to make plans if you're starting seeds indoors. Johnny's Selected Seeds offers a convenient seed starting calculator so you'll know what to start and when. The average last frost date for zip code 50309 is April 25, and you'll need to enter that date into the calculator. Find the calculator online at: www.johnnyseeds.com/e-pdgseedstart.aspx?source=W_InteractiveTools_122014

Free Mulch?

Did you know that tree trimming companies and even MidAmerican Energy sometimes have free mulch available? Watch Craigslist for “free mulch” posts. But be aware that when they come to dump mulch, they’ll empty their entire truckload in your driveway, giving you a great opportunity to share the bounty with your neighbors.

Is that legal in Des Moines?

The City of Des Moines’ livestock ordinance, including information on beekeeping, is available here: https://www.dmgov.org/Government/CityCouncil/Ordinances/14866.pdf.

Iowa Trees

Central Iowa is in hardiness zone 5, so plants that can endure -20 degrees Fahrenheit are considered hardy here and will survive our winters. The National Arbor Foundation has a list of trees that are hardy here in zone 5 at http://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=zone-lookup.