Earlier this year I launched a highly unscientific experiment to assess whether red plastic mulch would be beneficial to my tomato plants. You can read about it in my post about tomatoes and red plastic mulch.
The claim (by purveyors of red plastic mulch) was that the mulch could accelerate the development and ripening of fruit. I planted tomatoes in the vegetable garden and mulched them with red plastic, and put more tomato plants (of the same age and some of the same variety) in my greenhouse without mulch.
Due to an unseasonably cold and wet early summer I would have expected the greenhouse tomatoes to perform better than those poor plants exposed to the elements out in the garden.
But I have to report that the tomatoes mulched with red plastic did better than those in the greenhouse! I didn’t measure, count or record anything, but it was pretty clear to me that the mulched tomatoes produced more and larger fruit, and they ripened earlier than those in the greenhouse.
The lower production in the greenhouse I attribute partly to the fact that those plants were container grown, so had limited access to nutrients and inevitably, more fluctuation in soil moisture levels than those grown in-ground. But I have no explanation for the earlier ripening of the red plastic mulched tomatoes except for the mulch – in fact I would have expected (given the cool conditions this year) those plants to develop more slowly and they most certainly didn’t!
So the results of my very unscientific experiment show that red plastic mulch does, in my opinion, improve the yield and accelerate the ripening of tomatoes.