Free Pepper Plant Program

Program Overview

The Free Pepper Plant Program is an educational gardening activity where participants from Dubuque County can sign up to receive a free 4-pack of bell pepper plants.  In addition, gardeners receive free growing updates from Horticulture Educator, Ray Kruse during the growing season on how to grow the peppers in a Northeast Iowa climate.

graphics of peppers growing

What We Provide for Participants

  • A free 4-pack of 'Lady Bell' bell pepper plants.
  • Planting instructions.
  • Growing updates to assist in caring for your bell peppers.


What Participants Need To Do

  • Pick up pepper plants at the location you choose during the required free registration (options listed below). 
  • Pepper plant pickup will occur during normal business hours of your chosen pickup location between the dates of Wednesday, May 15 - Saturday, May 18.
  • Plant your bell peppers.
  • Follow along with growing season updates sent to your email.
Program materials

How To Register

Participants can register for free in one of two ways mentioned below.  An email address and mailing address is required in order to participate. 

  • Register online at the following link:
  • Call the Dubuque County Extension Office at (563) 583-6496

Individuals who do not have email service can still register for the program by calling the Dubuque County Extension Office.  Program information will be sent out via U.S. Mail.  Program information is also available in Spanish upon request when calling the Dubuque County Extension Office.

Pepper Transplants in protective box

Program Timeline

  • May 6 - Registration Closes
  • May 14 - Pickup reminder email sent to participants
  • May 15 - 18 - Pickup pepper plants at chosen locations
  • Growing updates sent out (dates subject to change based on season)
    • May 15 - Planting peppers
    • May 31 - Weeding, fertilizing, and Mulching
    • June 15 - Trellising
    • July 15 - Insects and bugs
    • August 1 - Start harvesting peppers


New This Year

Text Notifications: Participants can get a courtesy text reminder on plant pickup and growing updates.  Just enter your preferred phone number when requested during registration. Text messages will be sent from phone number (563) 227-4812.

Sneak Peak: Participants who register by April 15 will get a bonus growing update.  Horticulture Educator, Ray Kruse will be visiting the greenhouse producer growing your bell pepper transplants.  You will get a sneak peak of what they look like and the resources it takes to grow great quality pepper transplants.

trio of peppers in garden

Who Coordinates the Free Pepper Plant Program?

Ray Kruse is the Horticulture Educator at the Dubuque County Extension Office.  Ray will be writing the growing updates sharing tips and tricks on how to grow your bell peppers using the plants in his very own garden.

Ray Kruse

(563) 583-6496

Ray Kruse

Additional Program Information

  • The 4-pack of 'Lady Bell' sweet bell peppers will plant a row approximately six feet long.
  • 4-packs of bell pepper transplants are limited to one per person but multiple family members at the same address can participate.
  • Growing season updates are sent to gardeners after pepper transplant pickup by email and optionally by U.S. Mail.
  • Gardeners will be encouraged to grow their peppers any way they see fit, however the program is geared towards raising bell peppers in the garden and not containers.
  • Participants not able to pickup their pepper transplants at their chosen location by the May 18 deadline will be directed to pick up their pepper transplants at the Dubuque County Extension Office.  Availability and quality may be limited due to the short lifespan of transplants.
  • Pepper transplants are sourced from a commercial garden supplier ensuring the transplants are of transplant quality normally seen at garden retailers.
  • The 'Lady Bell' variety of bell pepper in this program is a sweet type pepper and not a hot type of pepper.
  • Listed below are the pickup locations of the free pepper plant program.  We greatly appreciate the partnership of our fellow community partners to offer and distribute this free program with their clients.
    • Dyersville James Kennedy Public Library
    • Dubuque Carnegie-Stout Public Library
    • Cascade Public Library
    • Asbury Location of the Dubuque County Library
    • Peosta Location of the Dubuque County Library
    • Epworth Location of the Dubuque County Library
    • Farley Location of the Dubuque County Library
    • Holy Cross Location of the Dubuque County Library
    • Dubuque County ISU Extension and Outreach Office
pepper on plant
pepper plant
Pepper smiling at you

Looking for other gardening information?

Go back to the Home Gardening Page

See past years of the Free Seed Program

See the Dubuque County Master Gardeners

Page last updated by Ray Kruse on 2/19/2024