Mulching Tomatoes

Do you need to mulch your tomato plants and what to use

You don’t have to mulch tomatoes, but if you do, you will have healthier plants and higher yields. 

What is tomato mulching?

Tomato mulching is covering the soil to create more favourable conditions for the plant to grow and increase fruit production. A tomato mulch is a protective layer on the ground around the plant which gardeners use to improve the growing conditions. Mulch also stops weed growth and keeps the soil moist.

When to mulch tomato plants?

You can mulch tomatoes when the soil has already warmed up, which is usually late spring. You don’t want to mulch your tomato plants when the soil is still cold, as this would prevent the sun from warming it up during the day. 

How to mulch tomato plants

  • Weed your tomato plants first
  • Spread a layer of mulch around the plant, the layer should be 2 – 3 cm thick
  • Leave some space around the stem, so the mulch is not touching the plant, otherwise the plant may be more prone to disease
  • Water your tomato plants

Types of mulches for tomato plants

Organic and inorganic mulches

There are various materials which you can use for tomato mulching including organic and inorganic ready-made products. Both organic and plastic mulches serve the plants well. They both help to keep the moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth. 

What is the difference between organic and inorganic mulches and which is better?

The main difference between the two is that organic mulch protects the soil from heating up in the sun while the plastic doesn’t. Next thing to consider is the cost. Organic mulches cost nothing (you can use many things which would be otherwise composted or become garden waste). But commercial mulches have many advantages, they are clean, easy to handle and you can re-use them many times. However, inorganic mulches have a major downside – they gradually deteriorate the health of soil. Overall, organic mulches are more environmentally friendly and better for plants’ health. 

Organic mulches for tomatoes

Here is a list of organic materials for mulching tomatoes:
  • Straw
  • Bark chips
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Compost 
  • Cardboard

Inorganic mulches

  • Plastic
  • Landscape fabric

What not to use for tomato mulch

  • Coniferous tree needles or cuttings 
  • Hay
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