Magic Mulch Yields Bountiful Tomatoes


Growing tomatoes with red plastic mulch can increase harvests of high quality fruit by 10 to 15 percent. USDA tests show that plants growing with red mulch produce tomatoes weighing an average of 46 percent more than tomatoes mulched with black plastic or many other methods of mulching.

The colored mulch can also have an effect on taste and protein levels in leaves which might provides protection from insects.

Phytochrome, is the chemical responsible. Scientists consider phytochrome to be the universal regulator in plants by which plants sense the quality of surrounding light.

The colored plastic mulch reflects different colored light rays to the stem, undersides of leaves, and the developing fruit under the leaves. This helps the plant to grow a healthier and stronger plant.

Different tomato varieties respond differently to the red mulch. The scientific theory is that different red wavelengths are absorbed differently by different species of plants.

Tomatoes grown with red mulch must be staked or caged. The sunlight has to reach the colored mulch in order for the light rays to reflect properly. Big plants covering the mulch will cover all of the red color and it will become ineffective.

The red mulch also helps protect tomato plants from nematodes which can stunt growth and even kill plants.

Nematodes affect roots with small to large galls and massive root swelling. This causes the plant to be unable to extract proper nutrients from the soil in order to grow producing stunted, yellow or pale green plants which wilt even when receiving adequate moisture.

Studies at the USDA show that red mulch suppresses nematodes by reflecting light to the plant instead of to the roots thus depriving the nematodes of food.

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Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment.
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
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