Mr. Armacost’s project was part demonstration, and part experiment. The demonstration involved growing tomatoes and bell peppers on raised beds, with trickle irrigation—proven techniques but not, Mr. Armacost reports, widely employed in his area. The experimental component involved comparison of plastic mulches of various colors—red, yellow, silver, and green—with each other, and with straw mulch. The dependent variables to be examined were date of maturity, yield, and produce quality.
Unfortunately this experiment was begun during the notoriously wet spring of 1998. The incessant rain, which delayed planting and caused erosion between the rows, and a disease that afflicted the tomatoes, so compromised the experiment that no measurements of yield quality or quantity, or of maturity date, were taken. Mr. Armacost reports only that the straw mulch was as effective for weed suppression as the plastic mulches.
The project was publicized through the Maryland extension service, and appeared to arouse modest interest. The machine used to build the raised beds was made available to anyone interested, however only one other grower availed himself of the opportunity.