We always raked the mowed grass with a fan rake and transferred it to a compost pile, where it overheated together with weed and organic waste and after 3 years it became a nutrient fertilizer.
When the "fashion" for mulching captured almost all the neighbors and this technique showed positive results, I decided to implement the technique on my own site. At first I tried it on moisture-loving cucumbers and peppers, and a couple of years ago, after long discussions with my mother, I began to mulch with mowed grass and tomatoes.
The reason for our disagreement lay in the myth that tomatoes do not like moisture, and mulching is supposed to keep it in the soil. Mom was very afraid that the tomatoes in the greenhouse would be sick and the harvest would be lost.
But everything ended in success: the tomatoes grew strong, the fruits ripened amicably and there was no phytophtora. Since then, mowed grass is always present in beds with tomatoes in open ground and in the greenhouse.
This goal will be achieved by you not immediately: you will notice the first signs of improving the structure of the soil only by the middle of summer, when the lower layers of mowed grass laid on the beds will interfere.
Well, and you will get the maximum result next year: rotting organic matter will enrich the earth in the open field and in the greenhouse with elements important for plant development. Besides:
- warm soil with inclusions of mowed grass will attract worms that will process organic matter into easily digestible elements,
- semi-decomposed organic matter will make the soil loose and lush, which will create comfortable conditions for the growth and development of the root system of cultivated plants,
- In the decomposition of organic matter, useful soil bacteria are actively involved, which in the course of their vital activity, improve the composition of the soil and make it nourishing.
The mulch layer protects street and greenhouse beds from soil crust formation. You will not need to loosen to provide air access for the root system and aerobic bacteria.
So how can tomato mulching with mowed grass protect a crop from disease? My mother was confident that the constant moisture of the soil will lead to rot, fungi and, in particular, to late blight.
In fact, mycoses infect this crop not because of moisture in the beds, but mainly because the pathogenic flora gets on the stems and leaves of the plants.
Everyone noticed that when watering from a watering can, the ground in the beds seemed to be splashing. Gardeners after the evening "events" sometimes have to take a shower to wash off the ground and shoes.
But we are not the only ones who suffer from this peculiarity of hand-watering: soil particles together with pathogens fall on the stems and leaves of tomatoes, which causes specific diseases: rot, late blight and spotting.
The mulch layer covering the surface of the bed softens the flow of water, preventing the formation of a crust, and also prevents particles of the soil from falling on delicate stems and foliage of tomatoes.
In combination with regular spraying of Fitosporin solution, covering the soil with mowed grass gives a rather impressive result - tomatoes grow strong and resistant to diseases.
Another tangible benefit in the prevention of diseases is based on the process of pererevaniya mowed grass, laid on the beds with tomatoes. In the process of decomposition, a comfortable environment for reproduction of hay bacillus is formed, which acts as an inhibitor to fungal microflora.
Mulching allows gardeners to significantly save their strength. A thick dry layer of mowed grass protects the beds from weed seeds on them, which means you don’t have to constantly do weeding.
The mowed grass laid on beds with tomatoes helps to fight with perennial weeds. Sprouting horsetail, sorrel, convolvulus and couch grass under a thick layer of mulch will not be enough light for full development.
In 2 years I managed to completely remove perennial weeds from the greenhouse: I regularly inspected the beds and cut off the pale shoots on the ground level. As a result, the roots that were not receiving sunlight for a long time died off, and I no longer encounter this problem.
In weed-sheltered beds, tomatoes receive all the nutrients and moisture they need for full development and abundant fruiting.
In addition, the lack of weeding has a positive effect on plant health: pulling out weeds with an overgrown root system, we often harm the delicate roots of tomatoes, and tomatoes are forced to redirect their forces to recovery at the expense of yield.
Both greenhouse and soil tomatoes require constantly maintained comfortable conditions. The mulch layer acts as a thermostat, keeping the temperature of the soil at about the same during the day and at night.
Dried mowed grass acquires a light shade and reflects the sun's rays, preventing the soil from overheating, and the airiness of the layer ensures constant air exchange and optimum ventilation.
At night, the mulch pad retains comfortable temperature readings, preventing the soil from cooling down with the air. Especially this factor will appreciate your tomatoes growing in open ground.
For outdoor tomatoes, which may suffer from daily temperature changes, it is recommended to arrange a thick (8-10 cm) mulch layer and maintain its height throughout the season.
Mulching with mowed grass has a positive effect on the yield of this crop. From my own experience I will say that the fruiting period of zamulcirovannyh tomatoes lasts for 2-3 weeks longer, which is very important for the middle band.
This is due to the above thermostat effect: the culture, having felt the influence of daily temperature drops, "turns off" the processes of formation of new ovaries and redirects all its forces to the maturation of the largest fruits.
Mulching, on the other hand, preserves the temperature of the soil, and overheating of the lower layers of the cut grass works as a warm bed.
In addition, mulching contributes to:
- increasing the lightness of the foliage and fruits of tomatoes due to the reflection of sunlight from the brightened dry grass,
- accelerated ripening of fruits due to the release of ethylene when the grass is decomposed,
- increase of keeping quality of fruits due to the influence of ethylene released in the air.
In addition to all the listed advantages, it is possible to single out the significant aesthetics of the garden beds with tomatoes mowed with cut grass. In the greenhouse and in the open field it becomes noticeably less dirt and dust, it is pleasant to work on such a neat site.
Cons of the technique
But the use of cut grass for mulching tomatoes can have negative sides:
- Mulching retains moisture in the soil, this positive factor can be harmful if improperly organized care. If you water the tomatoes according to the previous scheme (abundantly once every 1-2 weeks), this will inevitably lead to the rotting of the root system of the crop. After the organization of the mulch layer, you will need to reduce the volume of water and shed the beds “according to indications”, with significant drying out of the soil.
- If you do not mow the lawn every week, there is a risk that grass seeds will be contained in the mulch material. Their transfer to the beds over time will lead to inevitable weed germination.
- The heat released during the decomposition of mowed grass can attract rodents and moles, which will damage the roots of the crop.
- During decomposition into the soil, nitrogen is released. An overabundance of this element can lead to the development of green mass to the detriment of fruiting, therefore it is necessary to additionally enrich the soil with potassium and phosphorus.
You will learn more about the technique of mulching tomatoes and the benefits of the technique from the video:
Mulching Technology Tips
It is not enough just to lay beds with freshly cut grass tomatoes and wait for positive results. This technology has its own subtleties:
- for mulching it is better to use dried and even dried mowed grass, it will lay down with an air layer and will not rot,
- prepare the beds before mulching - spill them well and pull out all the weeds,
- a layer of mulch should not strongly adhere to the stalks of tomatoes, in order to avoid rotting, leave small “tunnels” around the plants in the material,
- do not rush to lay the cut grass in the spring on the beds - the earth should warm up well,
- Watch the mulch height in the garden beds with tomatoes and constantly place the cut grass.
Upon completion of the harvest mulch should be embedded shallowly in the ground. Gradually rotting, it will become a valuable organic fertilizer for crops, as well as significantly improve the structure of the soil, making it loose and airy.
What is mulching?
Mulching is a laying on beds with vegetable crops, in our case with tomatoes, different materials.
They can be organic or artificial, but they have only one function: regulation of moisture and air regime of the soil.
Speaking in a more accessible language, mulch protects the ground from drying out. With its presence on the surface of the soil does not form a dense crust, interfering with air exchange. But she has others useful qualities:
- mulch, laid out on beds, does not let the sun's rays through. Therefore, weeds do not germinate on them, destroying garden crops,
- under the layer the soil remains wet and friable longertherefore, watering and loosening are required by plants much less frequently. Which means reduced labor cost,
- Organic materials touch the surface of the ridge with their lower layer, which begins to spin, turning into a favorite food of earthworms, processing it into humus. Thus, tomatoes get more necessary fertilizers. Often, in this situation, you can do without constant dressings or significantly reduce their number,
- prevents evaporation of water from the surface of the ridge. Tomatoes are watered quite plentifully. But in a greenhouse, evaporating water is in an enclosed space. It creates an increased level of moisture, which is harmful for tomatoes. It leads to the appearance of phytophtoras and various kinds of fungal diseases. The mulch shares the sprout with a moist soil, making the plant healthy throughout the growing season,
- simplified procedure for watering seedlings. The water jet during this process does not erode the soil.
Types of mulch
To cover the soil use different materials. They are divided into industrial and natural.
To industrial include films and all sorts of non-woven fabrics. Some of them are able to pass water and air, while others are not. In addition, they may have different color shades.
The most optimal industrial coatings for solanaceous are considered Agrotex materials and similar to them, but for many gardeners, the purchase of those becomes unnecessarily consuming.
Therefore, they are replaced by roofing felt, cardboard, black polyethylene or even just old newspapers.
Organic coatings for tomatoes are much more beneficial.. Decomposing, they turn into humus, providing plants with additional nutrition. Due to this, the soil is saturated with various microelements, and with which it depends on the material.
Organic mulch can serve:
- straw and hay
- forest litter with soil layer. (It is considered the best organic mulch that can significantly improve the composition of the soil),
- wood shavings and sawdust,
- shredded bark of trees
- young weeds without seeds
- needles and fallen leaves.
Sometimes mulching is carried out with the help of pebbles, small crushed stone and expanded clay. But they bring little benefit, besides removing them from the ridges is problematic.
Now in more detail about the procedure for mulching with the help of some of the above materials.
An excellent choice for greenhouse tomatoes. Its coverage of 10 cm, settling down, will decrease by about 3 times, but protects shoots from anthracnose, rot and spotted leaves.
Straw freely provides air passage to the roots of seedlings and acts as a good heat insulator. But in such an environment is easy insect pests or rodents.
Weeded weeds, mowed grass, as well as stepchildren removed from tomatoes, are suitable for this purpose. The layer must be taken such that when it dries out, its height is not less than 5 cm. Grass decomposes quickly, you have to update itbut it will saturate the earth with nitrogen.
Sawdust and bark
Durable and very durable material. Retains moisture well, so it's just perfect for a greenhouse. It is necessary to lay dry sawdust 8 cm thickthen it is recommended to shed it with a 5% urea solution. The soil should not be oxidized; for this purpose, ordinary chalk should be poured onto sawdust evenly, and slaked lime can also be used. It is capable of neutralizing the acetic acid resulting from a chemical reaction.
Prepared from various waste: debris, straw, torn weeds, scraps of paper, other similar materials. After decomposition and decomposition in the compost pit, they become an excellent nutrient mixture that worms quickly process.
Choose solid and opaque, then she able to resist weeds. The film should be pressed to the ground tightly enough.
When using it can occur root blooming of plants or their infection with fungal diseases. The reason - high humidity under the shelter itself.
Newspapers and cardboard
Paper is recycled wood. Any newspapers that are crushed and laid out are suitable. 15 cm layer. Compost or straw can be put on top, then the paper will not be blown away. Thanks to such actions the temperature of the soil will increase by no less than 2 degrees, and the layer will serve about two years. It is better to turn the paper in order not to rip it.
Nonwoven covering fabric
Its porous structure easily passes moisture and air. Serves about 5 years, protecting plants from fungus, pests or rot. Considered the most practical geotextilebut it is expensive. Perhaps this is his only flaw.
Durable, reliable. It does not let the weeds germinate, does not let the sunlight through to the saplings. However, too toxic and can harm tomatoes and soil.
When to carry out this procedure?
Mulch, as mentioned above, retains moisture in the soil and does not let the sunlight to it. therefore matter whether the greenhouse is heated or not.
Laying the layer should occur in an unheated greenhousewhere the earth is not artificially heated. This should be done after the frost has passedand the earth has already warmed up quite deeply.
If the greenhouse is heated, mulching is done at any time when the plants are planted.
Laying technology determines the selected coating. Loose mulch is piled between plants. Layer should be a few centimeters. BUT you need to leave a small space around the stemto freely water shoots.
Why mulch tomatoes in the greenhouse
Over the summer, watering greenhouse tomatoes consumes a lot of water. Covering ridges with mulch reduces the evaporation of moisture, this reduces the amount of watering. In the absence of a mulching layer, tomatoes are watered 1 time in 3 days, if present, no more than 1 time in 5 days.
In the soil there is not only useful microflora, it contains the causative agents of fungal diseases of tomatoes. Mulch is an excellent prophylactic against phytophthora, powdery mildew and other diseases. It eliminates the contact of the above-ground part of the tomato with the soil, which reduces the risk of infection of plants. The advantages of mulching include:
- optimum moisture level of the root zone,
- saving time in tillage, it is not necessary to loosen and weed, a crust does not form on the ground, weeds do not grow under a layer of mulch,
- fertility of greenhouse soil improves.
All the listed benefits of mulching boil down to one result - an increase in tomato yield. Every vegetable grower loves this.
About the features of tomato mulching
In greenhouses, the temperature of air and soil is higher than in open ground, so moisture from the soil evaporates more intensively. High humidity is the main cause of fungal diseases. Greenhouse owners use different materials to cover the soil under the tomatoes. Types of materials used:
- natural (organic),
Spring mulch tomatoes in the greenhouse after warming up the soil to 15 ° C. During the season, the organic layer is updated several times, as it is overheating, thinning.
A good supplier of mulch can be a lawn, it is at many dacha owners. The grass grows quickly, you can mow it in any way: with a trimmer, lawn mower or electric benzokosa.
Before using the cut grass as mulch, it is dried. When using fresh raw materials, the conductivity of the air deteriorates.
For mulch, you can use any mowed grass. The main thing is that she did not have seeds. Высушенное сырье укладывают по всей гряде слоем в 5 см.A smaller thickness will not give a positive result.
When growing tomatoes in a greenhouse of determinant type, straw is an ideal choice:
- the earth does not overheat,
- moisture does not evaporate
- fruits and leaves do not touch the ground.
Buy straw is not a problem, it is sold in briquettes and bales. When laying it on a bed, control the thickness of the layer, it should not exceed 7 cm. Violation of this rule will cause compaction of the ground, and may cause decay processes.
It is not recommended to use fresh sawdust, they take nitrogen from the soil, acidify the soil in the greenhouse. For tomatoes it is better to use waste from the processing of coniferous trees. It takes from 1 to 2 weeks to prepare them, for every 10 kg of raw material they add:
- 1 tbsp. l superphosphate,
- 120 g of slaked lime,
- 1.5 Art. l ammonium nitrate.
Ready, darkened sawdust is laid out under a tomato layer of 5-7 cm. It is better to do this in two weeks after transplanting seedlings to a permanent place. Pluses mulch from coniferous sawdust: reduced incidence of tomatoes, tomatoes suffer less from harmful insects.
How to use compost and humus
This type of material should be used carefully so as not to overfeed the bushes of tomatoes. Compost, laid on the soil well fertilized with organic matter and mineral fertilizers, can lead to fattening of tomatoes in the greenhouse. To avoid this, a layer of not more than 3 cm is poured.
Humus (well-rotted manure) is also used as compost. Tomatoes in the greenhouse are mulched with compost (humus) immediately after planting. Seedlings take root faster, less sick. The soil under the mulch for a long time remains wet and loose.
Inorganic raw materials for mulch
Many gardeners prefer inorganic mulch. As arguments in their favor, they call a service life of 2-3 years or more, their ability to maintain the tomato microclimate needed for full development.
This material is durable, they can close the ridges of tomatoes for several years in a row. It rots in two years. It is convenient to use cardboard, it is easily cut and stacked. Pros from its use:
- inhibits the growth and multiplication of weeds,
- retains moisture
- does not allow the soil to overheat in the heat, cool at night.
It is more practical to acquire a black film, the thickness of which is not less than 30 microns. Black color because it prevents the growth of weeds. Thickness guarantees long life. It is unprofitable to buy a thin film, it can fail in one season.
If drip irrigation is organized in the greenhouse, the film as mulch will be the best option.
In regions where summer is cool, black is relevant, and for a hot climate two-color types of films are more suitable. They have one side white, it reflects the sun's rays and prevents overheating of the soil, and the other side is black.
PVC film is easy to use. It is cut to the size of the ridge. Lay before planted seedlings. Where the ridge is prepared on the ridge, the film is slit crosswise. Seedlings are planted in the holes, and watering and feeding are carried out in them.
Nonwoven covering materials last the longest. They can be used for 5 seasons. This compensates for the costs of purchasing agrotextiles. In spring, the soil under the tomatoes is covered with black agrofibre. Lay it on the already prepared, fertilized soil.
Tomatoes are planted in the slot. The material is porous, air and water easily penetrate through it, and for weed growth it serves as an obstacle. In the spring in an unheated greenhouse, it does not cool at night and does not allow moisture to evaporate. In summer, in hot weather, white agrotextiles are laid over black material; it protects the roots and the soil from overheating.
Some materials are toxic, so they are not recommended to be used for mulching tomatoes. The ruberoid remaining after construction is better used for other purposes, and not to cover the soil in the greenhouse. It releases harmful substances that can get through the roots in plant tissue.
It is better to refuse peat as mulch, it leads to the oxidation of greenhouse soil.
Any fresh manure (cow, horse) will bring more harm than good to tomatoes:
- may cause root burn,
- stimulate the growth of shoots, leaves and delay the formation of fruits.
When choosing a mulching material for greenhouse tomatoes, it is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness, cost and advantages of the application. Any of the selected options improves the yield of greenhouse tomatoes.
Organic materials are preferred for tomato mulchc than artificial, since throughout the year organic mulch, in addition to its main task, performs another important function. Gradually decomposing, organic matter turns into humus and becomes an additional fertilizer for tomatoes. The type of materials also determines which microelements as a result feed the soil, therefore, you can choose the most suitable.
Hay or straw, compost, humus, peat, shavings, sawdust, small tree bark, dry leaves, needles, grain and seed husks, weeded young weeds that did not produce seeds, as well as cardboard and newspapers are suitable as organic mulch.
Straw as a mulch is an excellent material for use in the greenhouse. A layer of straw 10-15 cm thick can protect tomatoes from diseases such as leaf spot, early decay, anthracnose. The straw well passes oxygen to root system, being thus an excellent heat insulator. However, it is worth periodically checking the straw layer of mulch, as rodents or insect pests can live there.
Meadow grass or weeded young weeds that did not have time to form seeds are suitable as mulch. It is necessary to take a thick enough layer of grass so that after its settling a height of at least 5 cm remains. Such mulch will have to be updated frequently, as the grass decays quickly. But in mulching grass has its advantages: the soil will be constantly fed with nitrogen and trace elements.
For these purposes, well-suited materials from mixed and coniferous forests. Wood mulching material (sawdust, bark) is stronger than vegetable, therefore it is more durable and retains moisture better. Chopped wood bark is mainly used as mulch for garden trees and fruit bushes, as well as for vegetables in greenhouses. When mulching with woody material you need to follow simple rules:
- use only well dried wood material,
- a layer of sawdust or crushed bark with a thickness of 8 cm must be watered with a 5% urea solution,
- to prevent soil oxidation, scatter chalk or slaked lime over the layer of mulch,
It is also effective to mulch tomatoes in a greenhouse using compost, which can be prepared from any waste that can decompose. Over a long period, weeds, household waste, old paper, hay, and other organic materials become the ideal nutrient mix for vegetables, including tomatoes. For mulching tomatoes, a 3 cm compost layer is sufficient.
It is better to mix the compost with other types of mulch, as it is quickly processed by worms. Mulching tomatoes in the greenhouse with newspapers is also quite effective, because paper is wood that has been processed. To do this, you can use both black and white and color newspapers, which are preliminarily crushed and cover plantings with a layer thickness of about 15 cm. Such mulching contributes to the warming of the soil and will last longer than other materials.
To care for tomatoes in greenhouses there are special artificial materials, for example, Agrotex. However, many experienced gardeners consider buying such materials as a waste of money, because they are successfully replaced by polyethylene, burlap, etc. Consider how to properly mulch the tomatoes with the help of artificial materials.
Inorganic materials have several advantages over organic ones because they can last much longer: the whole season, or even two, and three. Due to the greenhouse effect, which is created by artificial materials, tomatoes are growing and developing more actively.
When mulching with a film, you need to choose the right material. Tomato mulch film should be red, opaque and durable to prevent weed germination. It is necessary to cover tomatoes with a film tightly, this will allow to increase the temperature of the soil by 1-2 degrees. This type of mulching is suitable for the cold season. In summer, the film must be removed to avoid overheating of the soil.
Tomatoes can be mulched with non-woven material, which has a porous structure and well passes moisture and air. Such a mulch will serve in the greenhouse from 3 to 5 years, protecting tomatoes from pests and the appearance of fungal diseases. The only drawback of this option is the high cost of the material.
What can not be mulched tomatoes in the greenhouse
Do not mulch tomatoes with ruberoid. Although it is a fairly reliable and durable material that does not let in light and does not allow weeds to sprout, the ruberoid is toxic. This can adversely affect the soil and future harvest.
It is also undesirable for tomatoes to mulch with pure peat, because it strongly oxidizes the soil. When using peat, you must mix it with compost or other materials that neutralize soil acidity.
The best time for the procedure
Knowing how to properly mulch tomatoes in the greenhouse, you must also choose the right time for this. It depends on whether the greenhouse is heated or not. If the greenhouse is heated, it is possible to mulch the tomatoes at any time, as needed. In an unheated greenhouse, mulching is necessary only after the soil has warmed up sufficiently and the threat of frost has passed.
Technology laying mulch depends on the type of material. Loose and organic mulch is covered with a layer of several centimeters between the plants, leaving a small space around the stem free for watering. If artificial material is used, it is spread on a bed, and in places where it is planned to plant tomatoes, cross-shaped cuts are made. Subsequently, seedlings are planted in cuts and watered.
What can be mulched tomatoes in the greenhouse
If there is such an opportunity, then mulching of tomatoes can be carried out with materials from mixed and coniferous forests. Wood material is more preferable because of its high strength in contrast to vegetable.
From this it follows that it will no longer require an update and at the same time perfectly retain moisture. In most cases, ground tree bark Mulch garden trees and fruit bushes. And it can also be used for vegetables grown in greenhouses.
To get maximum results from soil mulching with wood material, you need to follow the following guidelines:
- Before using wood material, be sure to dry it under cover.
- After you lay crushed bark or sawdust with a layer of 8 cm, be sure to pour them with a 5% solution of urea.
- Do not forget that over time the soil will oxidize. This can be avoided if chalk or slaked lime is scattered on the surface immediately after mulching.
Good effect gives the use as mulch for compost tomatoes. For its preparation, you can take any waste that can decompose. Surely everyone on the site in quite a large number there weeds, household waste, old paperprey hay
From all this you can get excellent nutritional mix for vegetables. If you decide to use compost for tomatoes, remember that it should be scattered on the surface with a layer of 3 cm.
For the best effect, it is recommended to carry out mulching not with one compost, but in combination with other types of materials. Then it will be much faster processed by worms. Alternatively, the above materials can be used for mulching greenhouse tomatoes and newspapers.
Do not forget that the paper is made from wood that has been processed. Mulch the soil for tomatoes can any newspapers, and not only black and white, but also color. However, they must first be finely cut and cover the planting with a thickness of 15 cm. Such a procedure will not only increase the temperature of the soil, but also allow much longer to not update the mulch, unlike other materials.