May 28, 2017

White on Black: Keeping Things Cool

White-on-black plastic mulch is recommended for crops that like it cooler.

Janine Pineo Photo | White-on-black plastic mulch is recommended for crops that like it cooler.

The benefits of plastic mulch are numerous, although sometimes one might raise an eyebrow and wonder whether the claims are true.

Such might be the case with white plastic mulch, although in this case it is “co-extruded white-on-black.”

This particular mulch is touted as the best for crops that love cooler soil and thrive in cooler temperatures, such as lettuce and the cole crops.

I decided to test this theory last year, planting all those cold-loving plants on a strip of white-on-black mulch.

Why the black, you might ask? Turns out that the black helps suppress weed growth, unlike just plain old white.

I put the black side down, touching the soil, then planted seeds and plants by cutting holes in the mulch as  I went. Then I waited.

The end result was that the plants did great. It wasn’t the best year, but the weather wasn’t the best, either. I did notice, however, that the heat that radiates off the black plastic mulch was seemingly absent; I tested this theory by walking barefoot on the white mulch.

Very cool.

I am giving the white-on-black plastic mulch another go this year because it certainly didn’t hurt the plants. And if I can keep the lettuce from bolting and the broccoli maturing too quickly, then it is well worth the tiny expense.

Did I mention the weed suppression? Yes, I did. Couple that with the water conservation you get, and plastic mulch is worth its weight in gold.

A great site to look at for more on plastic mulches is here from Penn State.

– Janine Pineo