Mulches, both organic and plastic sheeting, prevent weeds and preserve soil moisture. In the vegetable garden, red plastic mulch may actually increase vegetable yields. Field tests performed by the Agricultural Research Service and Clemson University show that red mulch increases tomato yields by 20 percent and enhances the flavor of strawberries. These plants perform better when exposed to the red color component of light as opposed to the blue component that is usually in reflected light. Using plastic mulch in your garden may make it more abundant.
Prepare the garden bed for planting. Till the soil and any desired soil amendments or fertilizer. Water the bed until it is evenly moist but not soggy throughout.
Dig a 3-inch deep trench around the entire garden bed. Set the removed soil aside on a tarp or place it in a bucket.
Lay the red plastic mulch over the entire bed. Push the ends into the trenches that you dug then refill the trenches with the soil, anchoring the plastic down.
Cut an X in the plastic at each point where you are planting a transplant. Plant the transplant into the soil through the X then anchor the cut edges of plastic down with a sprinkling of soil.
Water the plants at their base, using either a hose or installing an irrigation line. Water enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy, keeping in mind the soil retains more moisture under the plastic.
Check the bed after rainstorms for standing water. Poke holes in the plastic in areas where water accumulates so the moisture drains into the soil below.