13 comments on “Tomato Mulching: Grass

  1. I’ve used red plastic before, and I did notice (a) an earlier crop of cherry tomatoes, and (b) more crops than the previous year.

    Not exactly a scientific study, I know, but I’ve got a good-sized roll of it, so I’ll keep using it until it runs out.

  2. Matt – I think you are right to keep using it. My question is would it matter if it was red, black or silver? The plastic cover seems like a great idea, really no question about it. The main thing I wonder about it is why would red make it better than black or silver? One possible theory could be that perhaps it doesn’t absorb as much heat as black and therefore it keeps the soil a touch cooler. But I just don’t think that would matter that much. As a general cover, plastic is great. I’d use that roll up too!

  3. I know there was a lot of univeristy research behind the red plastic mulch; maybe it confuses pests that would enjoy your ripe tomatoes if nothing else. But I’d stick to grass clippings–I think the tomatoes enjoy that nitrogen boost, myself. My best-ever tomato crops were from plants I “mulched” with earthworm castings from my earthworm composter. Boy did they love those!!! Needless to say, the second I’m off deadline I’ll mulch the greenhouse tomatoes with some more this year.

  4. Earthworm castings have to be the best possible mulch! I’ve got a friend with a worm compost box…. I need to grab me some castings!

  5. As the spouse of the friend with the worm box…please please please …take the worm castings…the worms… and the box! Seriously, nice site Jones! Pics are great and the writing definitely captures your voice. As I know nothing of gardening, I can’t rate the advice, but the aesthetics are top notch. Congrats!

  6. One question, do you have to be careful not to use grass that has seeded out? I’m afraid to make my weeding work explode by using my bermuda grass clippings. I’m so sick of pulling bermuda grass out of beds!!

  7. Good question One Acre! yeah, you’ll definitely cause yourself problems if the seed gets mulched in. Just like hay (or straw that’s not quite straw) you’ll bring in seed and it will take. In my case, because I took the grass clippings from my mower bag, I probably have all kinds of weeds included.

    If things work out, the grass clippings dry and the whole thing can eventually compost like compost lasagna. Generally, I wind up with more weeds. Since my garden is so small I’m okay with that – i can control it.

  8. Timely post! I have been forgetting to set aside some grass clippings, I read this this morning and remembered to set aside a couple bags for the tomatoes =)

  9. Seems like a good idea. My question is: I have a raised garden bed with rich black soil. I do believe its compost soil because I have found all kinds of crud in the dirt. With this kind of soil can I use grass clippings for my tomatoes? My grass looks like a bunch of weeds to be honest with you. I also have red mulch down now. Do I remove that and put the grass or can I put the grass on top and if I use this weedy grass clippings would it be too much nitrogen with the soil which I strongly believe is compost soil.

    • Hi MarieBoston – Not sure how old your bed is, but compost does lose it’s oomph over time. Good to recompost even if you think the soil had some in it. Is the red mulch you are talking about a plastic sheeting or red “cedar” chips? If it’s the chips, I’d get those out of there as they aren’t a great mulch. If it’s the red sheeting and it’s working for you, I’d just leave that on. COuld be okay to get some compost around your plants underneat the sheeting.

      • Oh Nooo! It was the red chips. I just scraped all that I could from the plants and replaced it with the grass clippings. I just hope I get some fruit out of them. I have planted sweet millions and super sweet 100.s and one beefsteak. Some of them are growing. 2 are growing slow and 3 have been ripped up by birds or squirrels. I have about 14 tomato plants growing and I so pray that they do well this season. I am a novice gardener. This is My second year. Last year I didn’t do so well due to tree blockage that is now cut down.

      • You’ll get some nice fruit MarieBoston! Have no fear. As I understand it, the biggest issue with using red chip mulch is more about those chips getting incorporated into the soil over time (from tilling etc.) and causing a bit of a nitrogen slow down. It’s not catastrophic and you shouldn’t have a problem. I often worry about the various fungi that get brought in via wood chip mulch, but again… don’t sweat it. And good for you for starting! Second year means you aren’t a novice any more! Best of luck.

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