Q: Why did we plant the tomatoes through red plastic mulch this year?
A: It's an experiment. According to a UMass Extension report on the use of plastic mulches "Researchers at the USDA and Clemson University noted that certain crops performed better when grown in red mulch as opposed to black mulch: tomatoes, which yielded 20% more fruit; basil, the leaves of which had greater area, succulence, and fresh weight; and strawberries, which smelled better, tasted sweeter, and yielded a larger harvest. Penn State researchers found yield increases for tomatoes and eggplants on red mulch compared to black. Anecdotally, gardeners in Berkshire County saw marked increase in overall plant size, fruit size, and yield of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers when plants were grown in red mulch as opposed to straw mulch."
We have noted that weeds are growing under the mulch, which might be a problem later in the season.
The particular perforated product we are trying is "Better Reds", by Dalen Gardener, about $8-10 for 8 3'x3' sheets.