This year I am planting Tomatoes, Peppers, Okra, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Sweet Potatoes, Watermelon, and Canteloupe all in plastic mulch.
It takes me 30 minutes to 60 minutes per bed to lay the plastic. The plastic in the high tunnels is much easier than outside.
Why Plastic Mulch? Here is a nice list of advantages from
- Increases soil temperature, allowing earlier planting and earlier harvest, and promotes plant growth in cooler climates.
- Soil compaction is reduced which improves root growth.
- Fertilizer leaching is reduced because excess water runs off the plastic.
- Water logging from excessive rain is avoided.
- Drying of soil from evaporation is reduced.
- Crops are cleaner and less subject to disease caused by soil-borne pathogens because they are not in contact with the soil or rain-splashed soil.
- Weed control with black plastic eliminates the damage to roots caused by cultivation to remove weeds.
- Weed control (black and colored mulches).
- Harvest of crops can be 2-14 days earlier with black plastic and as much as 21 days earlier with clear plastic, depending on the crop and the temperatures.
- The “chimney effect”: CO2, which is required for photosynthesis, builds up under the plastic and can only escape through the planting holes, causing a higher concentration around the growing leaves.
1. Cost of mulch and irrigation equipment.
2. Soil erosion can increase between the mulched rows.
3. Weeds may grow through the planting holes close to the crop plants.
4. Must be removed from the garden annually, along with the drip or soaker hose irrigation tubes.
However I believe the advantages over power the disadvantages.
Here are some pictures from this year, so far.
Here is "Hoop B" the big tomato building.
Cucumbers and Zucchini