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Environment Blog Posts

A pile of heirloom tomatoes

May 12, 2022

Heirloom tomatoes have three distinct characteristics. Learn what makes them different from other kinds of tomatoes.

Turtle crossing the road

May 6, 2022

In the South, there’s a legend that says rain is on the way any time you see a turtle cross the road. There’s very little truth to this myth, even though it does seem like rain is in the forecast after we see one of these creatures slowly making its way across the street. 

close up of a person pruning a branch with pruning sheers

April 28, 2022

Pruning is one of the least understood gardening tasks and for good reason – it’s confusing. When, how, and if you should prune depends on the type of plant or tree you have and your goal for the plant.

White and pink native azaleas.

April 25, 2022

There’s no plant more iconic in the springtime than azaleas. Their bright, colorful blooms are exactly what we need to welcome the warm weather after a dreary winter. 

fruit and vegetable waste is added to a compost pile

April 21, 2022

Are you interested in starting a compost pile but aren’t quite sure where to start? Well, it’s an easy process, but it does require some patience. Here's how to do it.

Blue and purple hydrangeas.

April 14, 2022

Hydrangeas are a favorite among many Southerners. Their colorful blooms are a classic staple in many landscapes. They typically come in a variety of colors, including blue, purple, white, and pink. But did you know you can change the color of certain hydrangeas? With a little work and a lot of patience, you can change the color of bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas by adjusting the soil pH. How cool is that?!

Hairy crabbed

April 8, 2022

With warm weather arriving, many people are starting to think about their landscape plan for the spring and summer. It’s so exciting to get those colorful flowers planted. But with warmer weather, we also get unwanted, pesky weeds. It’s inevitable to have some type of weed pop up in your flower beds, gardens, or lawn at some point during the summer.

Leaves on a tree

April 1, 2022

Do you want to learn to identify trees? Do you want to be one of those people who can spot a tree, point at it, and name it with certainty? Always start with the leaves. Leaves are one of the most important aspects of tree identification.

Baby bunnies on log.

March 29, 2022

Spring is when we see a lot of baby wildlife. You’ll likely start seeing young animals tagging along behind one or both their parents, and boy, is it cute.

three different pictures of caterpillars.

March 22, 2022

Butterflies aren’t just beautiful. They are important pollinators for wildflowers and woody plants. But before they transform into the colorful, winged adults you see fluttering around your landscape, they are caterpillars hatched from eggs. Mississippi is home to more than 50 species of butterflies. Have you seen any of these three common butterfly caterpillars in your yard?

Purple martins flying around white gourds.

March 11, 2022

Purple martins are a real treat to have grace your landscape. They offer hours of bird watching entertainment with their musical chatter, beautiful colors, and aerial acrobatics. Each year, purple martins migrate to North America from South America to nest. They arrive at varying times, but most tend to show up in March in Mississippi. To help welcome purple martins to your home, make sure you have the right kind of habitats for them. 

A man plants seeds in a garden row.

March 3, 2022

Do you know what your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone is? USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are based on the average annual minimum winter temperatures across the U.S. These minimum temperatures are broken down into 10-degree increments and provide a guide for which landscape plants are cold hardy for a given area.

Soil in egg carton.

February 25, 2022

With spring right around the corner, many people have gardening on their minds again. To get your gardening fix, start seeds indoors for spring planting now! Have you tried egg cartons to get your plants started instead of purchasing seedling trays?  There are many benefits to trying this alternative container instead.

A faucet drips water.

February 17, 2022

You probably know how dangerous lead is, especially for children. Even low levels can have long term effects on a child’s development. The most important thing you can do is lessen your exposure or avoid lead exposure altogether.

Pink roses on a bush.

February 11, 2022

Roses are wildly popular flowers – both for planting in your yard and for gifting to a special someone. Native to the northern hemisphere, roses come in a variety of different colors and types. With over 50 different rose cultivars that grow well in Mississippi, there’s a rose that is sure to meet all your needs and preferences. 

crape myrtle blooms

February 3, 2022

Are you updating your existing landscape or planting a brand new one this season? You may want to consider crape myrtles.

Three birds on a bird feeder.

January 28, 2022

If there’s one thing we southerners love, it’s our backyard birds. There’s something enjoyable about watching birds fly around and chirp with each other in the yard. However, as brutal as the winter months can be to us, it can be even more challenging to our feathered friends. Many trees and shrubs become bare during the cold weather, eliminating their primary sources of shelter and food. To help provide food, water, and shelter to your backyard buddies, consider creating a welcoming habitat that will prepare them for cold weather.

January 20, 2022

Can you tell the difference between a termite and an ant? Termites and ants share a number of similar physical characteristics, and it can be hard to distinguish between the two at first glance. Since termites can be active long before they are properly identified, mistaking them for ants could be a costly error!

A person uses lopers to prune a hydrangea plant.

January 13, 2022

When, how, and if you should prune depends on the type of plant or tree you have and your goal for the plant. Check out this calendar for some of the pruning chores ideal for January through April in Mississippi.

Frozen plants.

January 4, 2022

January and February often bring harsh winter temperatures to us in Mississippi. Sometimes cold snaps even come in March and early April! One sudden drop in the temperature can unfortunately damage many of your tender landscape plants. Make sure the freezing temperatures do not harm your plants by taking a few preventative measures: 

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About Extension for Real Life

Extension for Real Life is a product of the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications.

That’s a long way of saying we are professional communicators who get to talk about food, families, 4-H, flowers, and farming for a living. Pretty good gig, right?

The three main writers for the blog are Ellen Graves (Seamstress of Social Media Strategy), Susan Collins-Smith (Content Connector) and Keri Lewis (Captain Cat Herder). But we get by with a lot of help from our friends in Ag Comm and Extension!

You can reach us at 662-325-2262 or extreallife@msstate.edu

Recent Posts

a glass of lemonade
Honey-Sweetened Lemonade is a refreshing treat especially in the summer.
The Food Factor
A pile of heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes have distinctive characteristics that set them apart from other types of tomatoes.
What are Heirloom Tomatoes?