Jun 22, 2012

Red plastic for tomatoes

      I live in South East Idaho where our growing season is short (zone 6a).  We certainly can grow tomatoes but the season is never long enough.  Since I love home grown tomatoes, I try a few tricks to get my tomatoes to produce as soon as possible.  This year I planted my tomatoes the first week of May using Wall of Waters to protect them from frost and to give them each a tiny green house to grow in.  I took the Wall of Waters off 6 weeks later in the middle of June.
     I use to use black plastic mulch to warm the soil but the last few years I've used grass clippings as a mulch.  I've read about how red plastic mulch is suppose to produce earlier tomatoes.  Something about the red color reflecting far-red light that stimulates plant growth.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend money to test the idea myself.  Then I had an idea!  The Dollar Store sells red plastic table cloths, for two dollars I can put red plastic under my tomatoes.  I usually plant 6 tomato plants in a 3 ft x 12 ft raised bed.  The plastic table cloths they sell at the dollar store nearest me are 54 in x 88 in, so I needed two.  If I had room to grow more tomatoes, I wouldn't put red plastic under all of them.  The goal is to get enough to eat fresh as soon as possible.  Can't wait to have fresh tomatoes on tacos, hamburgers, bacon and tomato sandwiches, salads, pizza, enchiladas.......

     If your wondering, with six plants I usually get enough tomatoes to eat fresh and make a couple of batches of salsa.  If I get some given to me I make tomato soup to freeze.

Have any of you tried red plastic for your tomatoes?
Did you think it made a difference on how soon they ripened or how many tomatoes you harvested?



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