For many farmers, the big question still remains, what is the best mulch for tomatoes in containers? Container farming has been popular with farmers opting to plant in a controlled environment.
Mulch is the most essential part, especially for tomatoes and peppers. Tomato plants that have mulch produce more branches and make use of the nutrients more than those not mulched. Tomato mulching guarantees you healthier, vigorous tomatoes with a higher yield.
Tomatoes are some of the easiest crops to grow. With a little more effort, you can get an outstanding harvest of homegrown juicy tomatoes. If you are worried about where to grow your tomatoes, worry no more! Tomatoes can grow in bags or containers. Water them once every week and they will produce some of the biggest harvests.
Why Should You Mulch Your Tomatoes?
There are several reasons why it’s important to mulch your tomatoes. Here we discuss some of the major ones.
Regulates the Soil Temperature
Mulch helps control the soil temperature. During the hot season, it keeps the soil cool, and during the cool weather, it keeps it warm. Cold soil prevents the roots from absorbing the nutrients and the water they need. Hot soil causes the plants to die.
Improves Soil Health
Organic mulching decomposes into the soil improving the health of the soil. The tomato plants are able to get micro-nutrients and minerals from the decomposed mulch. Organic mulching also creates a home for fungi, bacteria, and beneficial worms. It creates an environment for them to thrive and allow healthier plants to grow.
Mulching covers the soil surface and keeps the tomatoes plants clean and fresh. It creates a barrier between the foliage of the plant and the soil. This prevents them from soil-borne fungal diseases.
Keeps Soil Moisture
Mulching keeps the soil moist for longer. It prevents the water from evaporating fast during the dry season.
Saves you Water
With the soil moisture retained, you need less water to water if you use mulch.
Stops the Growth of Weeds
Mulching makes a good layer on the topsoil stopping the growth and spread of weeds.
Mulch protects your plants, encourages growth, and leads to a better harvest! Start using it and you will notice the difference?
How to Pick the Best Mulch for Tomatoes in Containers
There are a few factors to consider when selecting tomato mulch. These include:
- Color– red mulch is better for tomato yields and strawberry than the black one. Color is not just a choice when it comes to the best mulch rather an important factor.
Types of Mulch
There are two common types of mulch. They include organic and inorganic mulching.
Most of the small gardeners, home gardeners, and hobby gardeners prefer to use organic mulch for their tomato farming. Organic mulch includes:
- Shredded leaves
- Wood chips
- Bark chips
- Alfalfa hay
- Cardboard or newspaper
- Old carpet of natural fibers
- Leaf mold
- Grass clippings
- Pine straw
It is commonly practiced by large scale productions like commercial tomato growers. Inorganic mulch includes:
- Red plastic
- Landscape fabrics
- Black plastic
Differences between Types of Mulch
|Organic Mulch||Inorganic Mulch|
|Best for home gardeners||Suitable for commercial farmers|
|Less expensive if the resources are free around the home||Highly expensive|
|Saves water||Saves less water|
|Increases soil health||With constant use, it gradually decreases soil health|
|Attracts termites, bugs and the earthworm||Does not attract pests|
|Come from living matter||Bought from gardening stores|
|You have to provide this mulch each planting season||You can reuse this mulch in the seasons to come|
When is the Best Time to Mulch Tomatoes in Containers?
There is a right time to mulch your tomatoes. You should transplant when the night temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for better root development.
After transplanting, allow the soil to warm for some days about 1-3 weeks. Or until the night temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit to start mulching. Mulching before the soil warms up delays tomato flowering thus fruiting with weeks or even up to a month.
What is the Best Mulch for Tomatoes in Containers?
Having looked at the benefits of mulch and when to lay it, let look at the best mulch for tomatoes in containers.
It comes as a compressed mulch block manufactured by crushing coconut husks. Coco mulch made from 100% coconut husks does not contain additives and has many benefits over bark mulch. Unlike the bark, coco does not float on the surfaces thus can be used in sloppy surfaces. Coco mulch contains high lignin content that causes it to last longer than most mulch.
- It outlasts bark mulch giving you up to three years of use without refreshing
- Use only a small portion – This block expands after hydration to cover more space.
- Comes with a rust-like color that adds color to your containers.
- Perfect for any mulching job
- Does not attract harmful insects
- It is toxic to pets
- Quite costly compared to the size
This mulch is suitable for outdoor and indoor potted plants, hanging planters, and other gardening pots. It controls weeds and holds moisture in the soil. Cedar’s smell is unique and subtle. It does not absorb moisture and any unpleasant odors.
- It is made in America
- Made from 100% natural cedar
- Still works as an air freshener when you use it in indoor containers
- The chips are like tiny cedar shavings
This mulch film increases tomato yield by up to 20%. It does so by reflecting its red light onto plants thus stimulating growth. This film retains moisture, controls weeds, and warms the soil. This mulch film can also be used for strawberries, melons and other fruit crops above the ground.
- Increases tomato yield by up to 20% against the black film
- Uses its red-light reflection to stimulate growth
- Can be reused in future growing seasons
- It may retain too much moisture that could damage the tomatoes.
Gardening whether in a garden or containers is a lot of work. Your efforts will be crowned by using the right knowledge and tools. Mulching is one of the simple tools that bear you outstanding results. You can increase your tomato production and protect your plants from disease by using this simple trick. Don’t be left behind!
What kind of mulch should I use for potted tomatoes?
The most common types of mulch include straw or hay, wood chips or bark chips, crumbled leaves or pine needles.
Is cedar mulch OK for tomatoes?
Cedar mulch is a porous material, as it has a plentiful amount of small holes that provide micro-oxygen and nutrients to the soil. It also blocks water from being absorbed by the ground, making cedar mulch ineffective for vegetables that require moisture.
Should you put mulch on top of tomato plants?
Mulch is a material used to retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing. It is often used in landscaping and gardening to prevent the roots from drying out. While the mulch will help tomatoes grow better, it may not be worth the hassle for smaller plants if it is too much for them.
What should I add to my soil before planting tomatoes?
In general, adding compost to your soil before planting tomatoes will improve the quality of your soil and help prevent problems during the growing season. Adding organic matter to your garden bed, such as a layer of compost, will also help prevent diseases between plants by creating a healthy growing environment for them. For those with sandy or clay soils, adding sand or clay to the top layer of your soil before planting can also help create better conditions.
Is pine Needles good mulch for tomatoes?
Pine needles are not the best mulch to use for tomatoes. Pine needles are typically acidic and will cause iron deficiency in tomatoes.
Tomatoes need soil that is slightly alkaline or neutral, which is not what pine needles provide. Additionally, pine needles will encourage weed growth and may not decompose quickly enough to prevent pest infestations.
Pine needles can be used as mulch but should only be used under other types of mulches like hay or straw because the acidity of the pine needles can be too much for tomato plants to handle on their own.
Is wood mulch bad for tomatoes?
Some people believe that wood mulch is bad for tomatoes because it can cause uneven watering and drainage. And as a result, they don't want to use wood mulch at all.
But as it turns out, this belief is as old as the hills. In reality, there is no scientific evidence that proves this. A few studies have been done on the topic and found that there was no difference in tomato plants grown with or without wood mulch.
Therefore, if you want to grow a healthy garden with a lot of tomatoes, you should not deprive them of their most valuable fertilizing agent - wood mulch!
Can I put sawdust around my tomato plants?
Sawdust is a great way to amend the soil in your garden. It is often used in gardening to provide nutrients for plants.
It is important to note that sawdust only works on organic-based soils. A lot of people have found that adding sawdust to their gardens can help improve the drainage, aeration, and fertility of the soil. Sawdust may also help retain water by keeping it from evaporating into thin air while also allowing it to soak into the ground more easily during rainstorms.