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January 14, 2022

A person uses lopers to prune a hydrangea plant.

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.


A woman stands behind a kitchen counter with food items displayed.

4 Tips for a Healthier New You in the New Year

January 11, 2022

Every year millions of Americans vow to lose weight, eat healthier, and be more active. Qula has some tips to help you reach your goals.

A bowl of chili

The Food Factor: 15 Minute Chili

January 7, 2022

This simple homemade chili recipe features ground beef simmered with onion, tomatoes, beans, and seasonings. And it’s ready in 15 minutes!

Frozen plants.

How to Protect Plants During Winter

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: 

A bowl of applesauce.

The Food Factor: Cranberry Applesauce

December 21, 2021

Now that cranberries are in season, I like to use them in as many recipes as possible. This recipe features cranberries, apples, and cinnamon. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and tart with a beautiful color.

paperwhite narcissus

How to Grow Paperwhite Narcissus

December 17, 2021

When people think of holiday houseplants, poinsettias usually come to mind. Rightfully so! They’re one of the most popular plants on the market during the holidays. One plant many people overlook for decor during winter months is the paperwhite narcissus. 

A woman stands at a kitchen counter with ingredients displayed.

How to Use Ingredient Substitutes to Lower Sugar and Fat

December 14, 2021

With all the get-togethers, parties, and potlucks during the holiday season, it can be hard to consistently make healthy choices. Instead of giving up some of your holiday favorites, consider reducing the sugar and unhealthy fats in these dishes by swapping some of the ingredients for healthier substitutes. Qula shows you some easy swaps in her latest blog post!

Red poinsettias

How to Choose and Care for Poinsettias

December 8, 2021

Other than the Christmas tree, there’s no holiday plant more sought-after than the poinsettia. Although the most popular color for this winter favorite is Christmas red, you may find white, pink, yellow, maroon, and multi-color versions at your local garden store. Poinsettias are fragile and finnicky indoor plants, but they can add a bit of holiday cheer to any space with the right care! Here are a few tips on how to choose the best-looking poinsettias, and how to maintain them throughout the season.

Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Pie Bites on a plate

The Food Factor: Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Pie Bites

December 7, 2021

If you’re watching your calories this season, this Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Pie Bites recipe will satisfy your craving for pecan pie and help keep your portions sensible.

A coyote walking.

Critter of the Month: Coyote

December 3, 2021

At a quick glance, coyotes can be mistaken for a domestic dog, like a German shepherd or collie. But this wild dog species can be trouble if they take up residence in your neighborhood. 

Coyotes are abundant in Mississippi and are natural predators, preying on animals like small dogs, cats, birds, and rodents. They also can damage land. 

You may only hear coyotes and never actually see them. Their distinguishable howl is one sure sign they’ve taken up residence in your area. Most coyotes are active at night or during times when humans are not around. Coyotes are...

Frost on a plant.

Gardening Checklist for December

November 30, 2021

It’s hard to believe we will be closing out another year at the end of the month. If you’ve followed our monthly garden checklist, we know it’s been a busy year for you! Staying on top of the chores in your yard and garden is quite the undertaking, but isn’t it rewarding? To wrap up the year, here are a few things to take care of:

  1. Keep an eye on the weather. Mississippi is known for its unpredictable weather, and you don’t want a sudden cold snap to ruin your plants! Bring cold-sensitive container plants indoors and apply 6 to 8 inches of mulch in your garden or flower beds
  2. ...

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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.

Blog content is created by a core team of communicators, including Susan Collins-Smith, Ellen Graves, Natasha Haynes, Qula Madkin, Michaela Parker, and Jonathan Parrish. 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