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black plastic vs clear plastic

black plastic vs clear plastic
Posted by minok from vermont on 2001-04-10 21:31:12

Which is better for warming soil faster- black plastic or clear plastic?
  • The difference
    Posted by Ber from VT on 2001-04-17 10:48:17

    Quoting minok: ------------
    -Which is better for warming soil faster- black plastic or clear plastic?

    Hi There! Thinking of throwing some plastic over the snow to help it melt faster? My folks in Southern VT are consdiering a flame thrower...they're so sick of the white stuff, and they're due for more.

    Clear plastic does warm the soil faster than black plastic. But it also allows light through, which allows weeds to germinate and grow. If you leave the clear plastic on the soil through the summer, the soil will heat up so much that the high temperatures will kill soil organisms and plant roots. This is a handy process--called solarization--if you're TRYING to "clean" the soil of pathogenic organisms and weed seeds. If you want to use the plastic as a mulch and plant your crops through it, use black plastic or IRT (Infra-red Transmitting) mulch. The latter is a special polymer that allows the Infra-red rays through, which heats the soil better than black plastic, but supresses weed growth. Very handy for northern climates, but pricey if you're growing on a large scale. Great for the home gardener who wants to get melons to ripen for a change.

    What are you planning to plant in plastic mulch? Ber
    • A correction...
      Posted by Ber from VT on 2001-04-19 13:59:10

      Hi minok,

      I just did a little more reading about plastic mulches. Here in VT we probably don't have intense enough sun for clear plastic alone to kill your plants. Solarization would require a few more steps (i.e. tilling, raking, and wetting the soil before applying plastic) to be effective, and is much more effective further south where the sun is more intense.

      Still, using clear plastic has the disadvantage of promoting weed growth that will compete with your crops, which is less of an issue with black or IRT plastic mulch. The latter do allow some weed growth, but not enough to compete with plants.

      If you want to read about it in more depth, check out the link I included (above, in green text). Ber

      More on Plastic Mulches


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