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Posted on 06 August 2011 by

Mulch: A Tomato Gardener\’s Trade Secret


By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Gardening for me is a combination of luck, good genes, and scientific inquiry that starts with extension publications.

I seem to be a collector of these publications and love to read about the newest research being conducted in plant science.

One of the most useful publications I have ever found was one on mulch.

Mulch in recent years has become a generic term that includes leaves, grass clippings, landscape cloth, wood chips, and plastic.

But while all these mulches serve a purpose the plastic mulch is the most unique. Colored plastic, in recent years, has been showing up all over gardening catalogs and home improvement centers. The principle behind the colored plastic Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 16 January 2011 by

Share Your Birthday Balloons With Your Garden

mylarBy Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Mulch is a wonderful thing for the tomato garden.

It provides weed control, helps retain soil moisture, raises the soil temperature, and in some instances can raise fruit yield.

But being an environmentalist and avid recycler I am always looking for ways of use some items that normally would end up in the trash.

So as I look at my collection of birthday balloons I come up with the idea of Mylar.

Mylar has a wonderful reflective nature that tomatoes love. It is easy to work with and if you have a lot of tomatoes it can be purchased on a roll. But if you Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 12 November 2010 by

DIY-Budget Tomato Gardening

seed-trayBy Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Gardening in recent years has become a popular hobby and a way of stretching the food budget.

But items used for gardening sometimes can be gathered for free by reusing or re-purposing but normally they require money.

Below is some of my money saving tips that I have learned through many years of raising tomatoes.


Assorted containers are any tomato gardener’s friend. These can be as varied as buckets, hanging baskets, planters, and bags of soil to name a few. Discount stores, at the end of the season sales, and peoples’ refuse are great places to look for containers.

Another technique to save money is by creating your own Topsy Turvy planter. This type of planter requires a container with a hole in the bottom and a means to hang it with such as a handle or chain. But Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 07 July 2010 by

The Tomato Chronicles: Mulching

grass-clippingsBy Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Mulching was never something I did as a child when I used to help my Dad in the garden.

We simply took the plants out of their pots, teased the roots, wrapped newspaper around the stem and planted them in the hole.

But when I started gardening for myself I learned the value of mulching.

Mulch creates a moisture-retaining layer for the garden. Tomatoes love this and the constant level of moisture in the soil helps prevent bottom-rot. Mulch also creates a weed barrier that saves time and reduces plant competition so that your soil resources go to the tomatoes, not the grass in your garden. Finally organic mulch builds stronger tomato plants by building organic matter up the stem.

There are 2 general types of mulch. These are organic and inorganic. The organic mulch can be broken into grass clippings and straw while the inorganic mulch is red plastic. Each type of mulch has its positives and negatives so individual situations will have to be considered.

Organic Mulch

Grass Clippings

Grass clippings are great, cheap Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 07 June 2008 by

On Mulch and Tomatoes

By Kira Hamman

Mulch is the cashmere sweater of the garden — cool in warm weather, warm in cool weather, and right for every occasion.

It keeps the soil from drying out too quickly, and it smothers weeds in the bargain. What’s not to love?

Tomatoes adore mulch, of course, since they hate to be chilly or thirsty, and tomato gardeners love it because in addition to all the wonderful properties already mentioned, mulch protects dropped or sagging tomatoes from rotting before they can be harvested.

The only question, then, is “which mulch to use?”
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 01 May 2008 by

Why You Should Consider Hairy Vetch Mulch for Your Tomatoes

Hairy Vetch MulchBy Michelle Fabio

If you’re looking for mulch for your tomatoes, hairy vetch just may be the way to go.

According to research by Purdue University’s Avtar Handa, the Italian National Research Agency’s Annalaura Segre, and the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) plant physiologist Autar K. Mattoo, hairy vetch mulch activates the same metabolic pathways and genes that make biotech tomatoes stronger and tastier than regular tomatoes.

Hairy vetch is a legume often used as a cover crop to enrich soil during the winter months. This study, though, used it as a mulch for tomatoes and found that hairy vetch mulch treated tomatoes produced more Read the rest of this entry »


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