The Q&A Archives: Black Plastic Mulch

Question: I find black plastic mulch a great help here in New Hampshire with crops such as melons. I've started using it in other places in the vegetable garden. However, I was wondering if there are situations where I should NOT use black plastic for fear of raising the soil temperature too much. For instance, is it a good idea to use it for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cabbage, etc?

Answer: By all means use it on all your heat-loving vegetable crops (tomatoes, peppers & eggplant, squash, corn, pumpkins, etc.). Were it to rob the plant of moisture, that would be a problem, but if you use irrigation under the mulch, or leave large planting holes in the mulch, moisture shouldn't be an issue. Some cool-season crops (such as peas) cease to produce when their roots get too warm. You can use it to warm the soil early in the season, but mulch over it with straw on your cool-season crops as the season heats up.<br><br>New Hampshire summers don't get hot enough to fry ANYTHING! :-)

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