Colored Mulch Experiment - Knowledgebase Question

Richmond, VA
Avatar for TrueB23
Question by TrueB23
October 16, 1999
Do you know where I can get colored plastic mulch-red, blue, green or yellow? I'm using it for a science experiment where I'll be growing spinach to see if color has an effect on its growth. I'm a seventh grader and I'm interested in the work Micheal Kasperbauer has done on this subject. Apparently the light reflected off the colored mulch effects the plant's growth. I will be growing Burpee's Baby Leaf Hybrids Spinach and I'll be planting it in pots outside in Richmond by Oct. 23. Do you have any advice about growing spinach here this time of year? I know we may need to cover it or bring it inside if we have a frost.

Answer from NGA
October 16, 1999
I'm very sorry about the delay in answering your question. I hope the following info is still of use to you.

The head researcher at Gardener's Supply Company ( has done some research on using colored plastic mulches. You might want to contact him and see if he can supply you with samples and/or any background information. His first name is Mel; I'm sorry, but I don't know his last name. You can contact the company via their web site or e-mail them at: [email protected]

Here's a brief article about the work of Penn State professor Michael Orzolek on using colored plastic mulches:

Here is the site for Orzolek's bio at Penn State; at the bottom is a list of some of the articles he's published about colored mulches:

Article about using red plastic mulch for nematode control:

Source for red plastic mulch (used for nematode control):
38.Ken-Bar, Inc.
25 Walkers Brook Dr.
P.O. Box 504
Reading MA 01867-0704
(617) 944-0003
(800) 336-8882

Source for green mulch ("Garden Blanket") and black IRT mulch:
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply,

More info; go to the section on colored plastic mulches)

As far as growing spinach outdoors, one concern is, of course, very cold weather. Another is that the day length is significantly shorter than it is in spring and midsummer, so growth will be slower. If you can protect your plants against extreme cold, you may have enough time to get some good results. You may also want to repeat the experiment early next spring, if possible.

I would appreciate it if you could send me the results of your experiment. Our Education Dept. is always looking for interesting projects to discuss in their newsletter. Good luck!

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