Decado
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Red Things Around Tomatoes - More Blooms?

My neighbor was telling me that if you paint things red and place them around your tomatoes that they will get more blooms. Is this true?

GardenJester
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red plastic mulch are suppose to help speed up tomatoe ripening. Some scientific studies showed good result but it wasn't conclusive. I think you can buy it in stores.

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rainbowgardener
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As GJ notes, the red plastic mulch is supposed to improve tomato yield and help the tomatoes ripen faster, by reflecting red light back at them that reacts with their pigments.

I actually did try it one year. Unfortunately since I don't have a lot of room, I didn't do a control group. So given that and the vagaries of what happens in your garden each year re weather etc., it did not make enough difference that I could tell it.

I can't imagine that a few red painted objects would make any noticeable difference.

Here's an article about the red plastic:

https://gardening.about.com/od/totallytomatoes/qt/Red_Mulch.htm
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TZ -OH6
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In the tests the rows are very far apart, about 8 ft (2.1 m) in this study, in order to get enough red light reflected to have an effect. The increased yield was around 10%-20%. It looks promissing for some commercial applications but in a garden where you are space limited, and can work with plants spaced closer together you will get higher yields than with spacing for the red mulch to work.

https://afrsweb.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/66570000/Manuscripts/1998/Man493.pdf

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applestar
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A lot of us backyard gardeners have some kind of a vertical surface near or next to the garden, whether house wall or fence. I imagine that if you painted THAT red (or affixed one of those red mulches on it, the plants would get a fair amount of reflected red.

In my case, my New Tomato Bed is located in the angle between two house walls. But I don't think DH will let me paint just those walls RED! :lol: Anybody have a red barn alongside which you can plant a tomato garden? 8)

TZ -OH6
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I grew next to an old red barn until it collapsed under heavy snow this spring, not that there was much red left on it. Old red barn paint is lead based, which shouldn't affect tomatoes, but I wouldn't grow any root or leaf crops next to a barn.

Red wall vs white wall vs white wall would be a good experimant. White theoretically reflects all light so would reflect the red as well.

Decado
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How big would I need to cut the holes in the plastic mulch for the roots of the tomatoes to get proper air circulation? I can tell my tomatoes already have some pretty large root systems just by their outward growth and sturdiness.

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rainbowgardener
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If you buy the kind that is made for that

[url=https://www.gardeners.com/Red-Tomato-Mulch/VegetableGardening_TerrificTomatoes,36-399,default,cp.html?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=Google&utm_term=Red_Tomato_Mulch&SC=XNET8019&gclid=CKrN76a8rqICFRA35wod9GXX5Q]red plastic mulch[/url]

it has holes to let air and water through, so you don't have to worry so much about that. But since I did try it, I feel pretty convinced that you will NOT get your money back in value of increased tomato yield.

And once you have laid the plastic down, then you can't keep adding anything to your soil and you can't use any organic mulch (if you cover up the red, then why have it). When I tried the red plastic was some years ago, before I was as much a Ruth Stout type gardener.
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gixxerific
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TZ -OH6 wrote:I grew next to an old red barn until it collapsed under heavy snow this spring, not that there was much red left on it. Old red barn paint is lead based, which shouldn't affect tomatoes, but I wouldn't grow any root or leaf crops next to a barn.

Red wall vs white wall vs white wall would be a good experimant. White theoretically reflects all light so would reflect the red as well.
Good point. So why use red mulch?

TZ -OH6
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It has to do with the relative amount of red vs blue light. Well known to people growing under MH (blue) vs sodium (red) lights, where plants under MH do not bloom well and plants under sodium do not grow well. In an open field where the plants are not light limited a boost in red light seems to do something, but next to a north, east or west facing wall the plants are going to be light limited (hours of full sun) so a boost in total light would possibly have the same effect, or better.

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applestar
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RE: Reflected Light to Boost Total Light

The way my house sits and my neighbor's house on NE side sits, my garden on the NE side of the house gets extra boost of light from about 6PM on because of the way the sunlight reflects off the neighbor's cream colored house. And because of the typical subdivision construction, they only have one window on the first floor on this side so there's a huge solid surface to reflect from. 8)

TZ -OH6
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I used to have a similar situation on an apartment balcony where the light reflected off of the south wall of the next building. I could bloom orchids on the north facing balcony, which is supposed to be impossible if you take what the books say as fact.

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