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Fresh, juicy tomatoes are one of summer's best contributions to the dinner table. Growing your own can be a breeze with this handy booklet. Covers starting seeds, planting, supports, and pest control. 32 pg.
Excerpt from page 12
Think about Mulching
Some people can't wait to bury these newly set-out little plants under a couple of feet of mulch. In fact" some folks put the mulch down and then dig a hole in it and do the planting. I'd much prefer and strongly recommend that you let the soil get well warmed up before insulating it with mulch. The soil should be warm enough to mulch by the time the tomato plant is as big as a basketball. Then a good hay or straw mulch 5 or 6 inches deep has several benefits. It preserves moisture and evens out the supply between rains. It keeps the tomatoes up off the ground as they develop. The mulch eventually rots to improve the soil's organic matter. And of course it discourages weed growth.
Black plastic mulch is okay but it is real work to put it down and take it up. It is effective in evening out moisture supply and it does absorb a lot of heat and speed things up to begin with. I prefer hay as a mulch for tomatoes but I do reluctantly use plastic for melons here in the sub-arctic of southern Vermont. Another idea is to use biodegradable paper mulch which will decompose in the soil.
Copyright permission by Storey Communications.