Weeding and Mulching Your Tomato for Garden Health

The tomatoes have been planted again.  I found out that there are times when those old wise guys get it wrong.  The swallows were back but it still froze here.  It was a learning experience for at least one EZ Tomato Cage customer.  When he removed the plants that been frozen he found that the roots of his plants had not grown much.  The tomato plants had been root bound in the pot.  I was told to let everyone know that if a tomato plant looks to big for its pot it most likely is root bound.  If the tomato plant is root bound just ruffle the outside of the root ball, don’t pull it apart, this will cause too much damage.

As your tomatoes grow so will the weeds.  Tomato, pepper and eggplant root systems are very close to the surface. Do not to till very deep around the tomato plants.  When weeding try to cut the weeds off just below the surface of the soil.

The next step in weed control is mulching.  This is a huge topic. Mulch isn’t just about weed control it is also about moisture and temperature of the soil.  In the northern growing areas let the ground warm up before mulching.  There are many types of mulch.  There is black and colored plastics, newspapers, wood chips, leaves, and lawn clippings and many I have not listed.

Black plastic is easy to get and will hold down weeds and hold in moisture. Be sure to add small holes to let water get thru.  It may add temperature to the soil, which may be good or bad, depending on your climate.

Last years leaves this year mulch.

Last year leaves this year mulch.

I like lawn clippings mixed with leaves because I have easy access to them.  The grass clippings will add a little nitrogen to the soil.  Grass and leaves will add organic matter and many microorganisms that aid in nutrient exchange to the soil. They can be tilled into the garden at the end of the growing season.

I have not tried newspaper.  It seems that it would be hard to get enough of and hard to control in windy areas.  It would need to be covered with something for it to work in this part of the country.

The bottom line is that mulch is one of the most important parts of a successful garden.  The mulch you use will depend on how available it is to you.  It keeps weeds down and plants up.