Fact or fallacy

Use black plastic to cover your garden in the early spring to warm the soil.


Although it is typically thought that black plastic, because of its color, absorbs heat thereby warming the soil below it, this is a misconception. Tests have proven that the only true benefit to black plastic is that in a warming trend as in the spring, black plastic insulates against cooler night temperatures entering the soil, thereby accelerating the warming trend. It is further proven that clear plastic is the better choice since it not only insulates the soil from cooler night temperatures but creates a greenhouse effect during the day, raising soil temperatures.


Clear plastic can be utilized in the spring to effectively speed up soil warming and support earlier spring planting. Care should be taken so as not to remove the plastic prematurely. Removing the plastic to early can expose the plants to harsh night time temperatures.  Holes can be cut in the plastic to allow moisture to enter the soil and tender seedlings to grow.


From the old guy with the pony tail at Mendham Garden Center.