Plasticulture – In your garden

Q: I have seen many watermelon and strawberry fields that are covered by black plastic film. Where might I be able to get that type of film?

A: This technique is called plasticulture. It’s a great way to enhance vegetable growth by warming the soil and allowing accurate placement of water and fertilizer. Not all garden plants like the same growing conditions. Heat-loving peppers, beans, tomatoes, okra, and eggplant are great candidates for home garden black plastic mulch. Melons and pumpkins don’t do so well because the vines can’t root to the soil as they grow. UGA’s Paul Pugliese says landscape fabric, instead of black plastic, is a good alternative for a small garden. Don’t forget you’ll need drip tape or soaker hose that will go under the mulch. Check with local nurseries for supplies but you may have to search online to get what you need.