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Speed Up Tomato Growth with Tablecloths

Instead of spending $12 on a roll of red plastic to put around our tomato plants (to speed up growth) we purchased 2 red plastic tablecloths from a Dollar Store. They worked great!

By Ellen from Ware, MA


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March 17, 20100 found this helpful

Good idea, thanks for sharing, good luck.

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

Wow, if that works, it is a great idea!

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

I am curious why it has to be red? Thank you

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March 20, 20100 found this helpful

Why red plastic? I'm curious also.

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May 13, 20140 found this helpful

Most tomatoes won't grow well until soil temperature is at 60 degrees F, and you will. The surprise is that red plastic mulch is most effective, but if you can't find it, ... to ripen, they will release ethylene gas, which helps speed up the process.

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June 15, 20150 found this helpful

The ethylene gas is used by the industrial agriculture to speed the ripening process. It is not known to accelarate the growth rate of plants. Plastic bag are most of the time made of Polyethylene, also called Polythene. I am not sure that Polyethylene plastic bags, red or not, can produce the Ethylene gas and I hope they don't because Ethylene gas is listed as a class 3 carcinogen by the IARC : International Agency for Research on Cancer.

If someone obtained good results with red table cloths it means that the Ethylene gas has nothing to do with the results.

A plant will grow better with heat during daytime and a protection from the cold of the night. Every material absorbs and reflects solar energy but some materials absorb more than they reflect, depending on their density and their color. This phenomena is called the Albedo effect. Some materials store the day's solar energy and slowly emit it over night protecting the plant from the cold of the nights. Others materials will absorb and radiate the energy quicker and will heat the soil and the plant itself more during daytime. The darker the color, the more heat the material will give during the day. The lighter the material, the more heat the material will give back during the night. Maybe the color red is a good intermediate in the color range from black to white.

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