MSU Extension: Empowering Communities Through Education and Outreach

MSU Extension: Empowering Communities Through Education and Outreach

Welcome to the world of MSU Extension! If you’re looking to increase productivity in your garden or learn about irrigation techniques, you’ve come to the right place. Our experts have grown a wealth of knowledge and are ready to share it with you.

When it comes to gardening, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of proper plant care. For example, did you know that watering your plants from the underside can help prevent them from getting infected? Or that isolating diseased plants can save your entire crop?

If you’re trying to grow sun-loving crops like strawberries or corn, our MSU Extension videos can help you make the most of your harvest. Discover how to reduce transplant shock and get your plants off to a healthy start. You’ll also learn about choosing the right varieties for your climate and proper spacing to ensure optimal growth.

Are you wondering how to protect your veggies from the scorching afternoon sun? Our experts have the answers. Discover the benefits of applying mulch, using row covers, and strategically positioning your plants to provide shade to one another. Plus, find out how to properly store your produce so it stays fresh for weeks to come.

So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, MSU Extension has the information you need to cultivate a thriving garden. So, sit back, relax, and let’s talk plants!

Growing peppers in home gardens

Peppers are a great addition to any home garden. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and heat levels, making them a versatile and delicious vegetable to grow. Whether you choose to start your peppers from seeds indoors or directly in the garden, this guide will help you ensure their proper growth and productivity.

If you live in an area where the growing season is relatively short, starting your pepper seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost is highly recommended. This will give the plants a longer growing season and help them mature before the temperatures become too hostile outdoors.

When starting your pepper seeds indoors, it is important to provide them with enough heat and light. You can use a heat mat or place them near a sunny window to ensure they germinate properly. Regular watering is also necessary to keep the soil moist, but be careful not to overwater as this can lead to damping-off disease.

Once the threat of frost has passed and the weather warms up, it’s time to move your peppers outdoors. Before transplanting, it is essential to harden off the plants by gradually exposing them to the outdoor conditions. Start by placing them outside for a few hours each day and gradually increase the time over the course of a week.

Peppers thrive in well-drained and rich soil. Adding compost or a balanced fertilizer can help provide the necessary nutrition for their growth. Peppers are heavy feeders, so regular fertilization, particularly with a liquid fertilizer, is recommended throughout the growing season.

When it comes to pests, peppers are susceptible to a variety of insects, such as aphids, flea beetles, and hornworms. To prevent infestation, you can use organic sprays or introduce beneficial insects to your garden. It’s essential to monitor your plants regularly and take action at the first signs of pests.

As the peppers mature, you can expect to see them change color from green to their final colored stage. Different pepper varieties have different maturity times, but generally, peppers are ready to harvest when they have developed a full-sized, crispy fruit. To harvest, simply cut the pepper off the plant using clean, sharp tools.

Proper storage is also crucial in ensuring the longevity of your harvested peppers. Peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, or you can choose to freeze or dry them for longer-term storage. To freeze peppers, simply wash, cut, and remove the seeds before placing them in a freezer bag. For drying, you can hang the peppers upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area.

With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful pepper harvest in your home garden. Remember to provide the necessary nutrition, monitor for pests, and harvest the peppers promptly to prevent any infection or damage. Happy pepper growing!

MSU Extension

The MSU Extension program provides valuable information and resources for gardening enthusiasts. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced gardener, the MSU Extension can help you with your gardening needs.

In order to have a successful garden, location is key. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. If your soil is too heavy with clay, you can add straw or other organic matter to improve drainage.

Before planting seeds or transplants, it’s important to test the soil moisture. This can be done by digging a small hole and checking the color and texture of the soil. If it is mottled and moist, there is enough water for planting. If the soil is dry, it is important to water it before planting.

The MSU Extension provides a variety of tools and resources to help you in your gardening journey. Whether you have questions about plant diseases or need advice on pest control, the MSU Extension has the answers you need.

When it comes to storing seeds, it is important to keep them in a cool, dry place. This will help keep them viable for planting in the future. Additionally, proper watering is crucial for plant growth. The MSU Extension recommends watering your garden for about 5 minutes daily to ensure healthy, thriving plants.

Companion planting is an amazing technique that can help improve the growth and health of your vegetable garden. By planting certain crops together, you can maximize their potential. For example, planting marigolds near tomatoes can help deter pests and improve the flavor of the tomatoes.

In order to control pests, it is important to regularly inspect your plants for signs of disease or infestation. If you notice any diseased or damaged plants, remove them from the garden to prevent the spread of disease. Additionally, you can use mulch to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth around your plants.

When it comes to harvesting your crops, timing is crucial. Certain vegetables, like tomatoes and peppers, are best harvested when fully ripe. On the other hand, crops like lettuce and spinach should be harvested when young and tender. It’s important to carefully pull or cut the produce from the plant to avoid damaging the stem or foliage.

For those who enjoy flowering varieties, the MSU Extension provides helpful information on how to care for and harvest these plants. Whether they’re grown indoors or outdoors, proper care can help ensure the best blooms. This includes providing ample sunlight, removing spent flowers, and feeding the plants with a balanced fertilizer.

By following the advice and tips provided by the MSU Extension, you can create a thriving and bountiful garden. With the right tools and knowledge, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and experience the joy of growing your own food.

Preparation and Planting

Proper preparation and planting are crucial for successful gardening. In this section, we will discuss some important steps to take before and during the planting process.

1. Site selection: Choose a site that receives at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day. Avoid areas with heavy shade or competition from nearby trees and shrubs. Northern-facing locations are also not ideal, as they receive less sunlight.

2. Soil preparation: Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller, breaking up any clumps and ensuring good drainage. Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil fertility and structure.

3. Planting seeds: If you choose to start your plants from seeds, sow them according to the recommended depth and spacing on the seed packet. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and water gently. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.

4. Transplanting seedlings: If you prefer to start your plants indoors, begin the process several weeks before the last expected frost. Transplant the seedlings into individual pots once they have two sets of true leaves. Harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor temperatures before planting them directly into the garden.

5. Planting tomatoes: Tomatoes are warm-season plants and should only be planted outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Space the plants 2-3 feet apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart. Plant them more deeply than they were in the pots, burying them up to the first set of leaves. This will encourage strong root growth.

6. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. Organic mulches, such as straw or wood chips, are ideal. Mulches also help to regulate soil temperatures, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

7. Watering: Provide plants with 1-1.5 inches of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Water deeply and infrequently to encourage strong root development. Avoid wetting the foliage to prevent the spread of diseases like blight and mosaic virus.

8. Fertilizing: Prioritize soil nutrition by applying a balanced fertilizer or using organic alternatives, such as compost or liquid fertilizer. Fertilize plants at the recommended frequency, taking care not to overfertilize, which can lead to excessive foliage growth and reduced fruit production.

9. Companion planting: Consider planting companion plants, such as marigolds or basil, around your vegetables to attract pollinators, deter pests, and improve overall garden health. Certain plants have beneficial effects on their neighbors, while others should be kept apart to prevent competition or interference.

10. Pest and disease control: Monitor your plants regularly for signs of pests or diseases. Remove infected plants or sections promptly to prevent the spread of pathogens. Implement integrated pest management practices, such as using barriers, traps, or biological controls, to manage insects and diseases effectively.

By following these steps, you can create an optimal growing environment for your plants and increase your chances of a bountiful harvest. Remember to adapt your practices according to your specific climate, growing zone, and the needs of the plants you are growing.


Providing proper care to your crops is essential for a successful harvest. With the right care, your plants can thrive and produce a bountiful crop. Here are some tips to help you care for your plants:

Planting: When planting, it is important to carefully choose the right location for your crops. Ensure that the area is frost-free and receives ample sunlight. Prepare the soil by enriching it with organic matter to provide better nutrition for your plants.

Watering: Water your plants regularly, especially during dry spells. Use a watering can or a hose with a spray nozzle to provide an even distribution of water. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.

Fertilizing: Peppers are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks or use a liquid fertilizer to provide essential nutrients directly to the plants.

Support: As pepper plants grow, they may need support to prevent them from falling over. Use stakes or cages to provide support to the stems and help ensure upright growth.

Pest control: Keep an eye out for common pests and diseases that may affect your pepper plants. Aphids, mosaic virus, and fungal diseases are some of the most frequently encountered problems. Remove any infected plants or apply appropriate products to control the issue.

Mulching: Mulch around your pepper plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Use organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, to provide insulation for the roots and maintain a more stable temperature.

Harvesting: Harvest your peppers when they are fully ripe and colored. Most pepper varieties can be harvested when they are green, but some may require additional ripening to develop their full flavor. Use sharp pruning shears or scissors to cut the peppers from the plant.

Companions: Choosing good companions for your pepper plants can help improve their growth and ward off pests. Good companion plants for peppers include basil, tomatoes, carrots, and corn.

Transplanting: If you started your peppers indoors, carefully transplant them into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Be gentle when handling the plants to avoid disturbing the roots.

By following these care practices, you can ensure that your peppers grow healthy and produce a bountiful harvest.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.