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SueCT November 18, 2016 04:26 PM

Mulch for garlic
I just planted my garlic, which is actually about 3-4 weeks late, but temps were high, in the 80s, when I would normally plant it so I waited. Temps are still in the 50s and 60s during the day, with only a few in the 40s, so hopefully I will be OK. Last year they grew in the fall and I don't think that is really recommended. They were at least 6-8 high going into winter. The problem now is that I forgot to get mulch. I have a small amt of chopped straw mulch that I used over part of it, but they are out for the season where I usually get it. I have a few leaves that were partially chopped in the mower from my yard that I haven't put out for pick up yet, so I could use those. Mostly maple leaves. Any other suggestions? I do have some cedar mulch that I use in flower beds but I have never seen that type of stuff recommended for veggie gardens and I can't be sure what is in it for chemicals. Should I just pile a thicker layer of soil and compost on top? It is a mixture of soil and compost that I bought locally for my raised bed, already mixed together.

PhilaGardener November 18, 2016 06:36 PM

At this time of year, drive around the neighborhood and you will find that many nice people have left out nice bags of leaves for you! :D

No rush either; I generally don't mulch my garlic until the ground has frozen.

rxkeith November 18, 2016 09:16 PM

leaves are fine, and free. chop them up if you can, so they stay where put. chopping will also prevent matting from occurring. one year, i had several inches of leaves on my garlic, that i did not remove soon enough, and discovered my garlic had sprouted several inches beneath the mat. i may have broke off some stems before realizing what the situation was. wood shavings would prolly work ok too. we have places here that make wood products, and saw dust is available.


GrowingCoastal November 18, 2016 10:31 PM

Not cedar shavings.

AlittleSalt November 19, 2016 12:32 AM

SueCT, I have been reading this thread today after each reply. I saw, "I just planted my garlic, which is actually about 3-4 weeks late, but temps were high, in the 80s, when I would normally plant it so I waited."

Just a few days ago in Texas the highs were record breaking in the upper 80s, but I planted elephant garlic a week ago. The temperatures in Texas are supposed to be a lot different than those in Connecticut. Tonight's low is supposed to be near freezing.

A friend in a different zone in Texas is already planting sugar snap peas.

The weather really makes me wonder what to do.

jmsieglaff November 19, 2016 09:00 AM

I use straw like you usually do, but as others have said, leaves will work great too!

Labradors2 November 19, 2016 09:24 AM

Leaves and grass clippings will be fine.


TomNJ November 19, 2016 03:01 PM

Leaves work but be sure to chop them as finely as possible. If left whole they form a mat as Keith noted and the sprouting garlic can't penetrate, so they grow horizontally under the mat. If you can't chop them well, then remove the mulch in late February or early March just before the shoots break ground.

I find grass clippings to be the perfect mulch for garlic and onions. I begin collecting my clippings a few weeks before planting and spread them out in the garden about 2" thick to dry. Don't pile grass clippings too high or they will decompose instead of dry and turn slimy and stinky.

As for timing, I usually plant garlic out in the first half of November (my climate here in the mountains at 2,600 feet is quite similar to yours) and immediately mulch. This keeps the top growth to a minimum and usually does not break the mulch. I once planted out on December 13th in NJ and the garlic were bigger than another bed planted on November 1st. Go figure.


PhilaGardener November 19, 2016 07:11 PM

My garlic and elephant garlic were planted about 2 weeks ago and a few green sprouts are breaking the surface of the bed. Was 70F today, front is passing through now and it is expected to be around freezing by daybreak tomorrow. Crazy weather.

greenthumbomaha November 19, 2016 08:29 PM

Last year I had used extra bag of pine bark nuggets and I'm glad I did. It was a very cold winter. Did not lose even a single clove. This year I planted in mid Oct and just this week I covered the sprouted garlic with leftover straw. Fingers crossed that they know how to adapt to this crazy weather, its been in the 70's and 80's here too. I was in a tee shirt until yesterday.

I envy those living where the growing season extends into November. It was delightful to have these extra weeks before frigid temps set in.

- Lisa

SueCT November 19, 2016 09:54 PM

The weather seems to get crazier and crazier. Temps this week here were still in the mid 60s, but it can turn quite cold pretty quickly. From what I have read, the ideal situation is weather and timing that allows them to put down roots before the ground freezes but planting late enough so that there is little or no top growth. I wondered if my small to medium sized bulbs this year had anything to do with the bulbs sending up too much growth last year and then getting frozen. Anyway, I think this timing will turn out to be pretty good. temps are starting to go down into the 30s every night, and even forcasted to down to 25 one night but 50s during the day. I am hoping this is the weather that allows for the root growth but less top growth this year. I get concerned about snow and getting busy with the holidays, and not getting the mulch down at all, which is why it is just easier to put it down now and not have to worry about it. My mower does not do a great job of chopping the leaves, and I ended up finding a place that has some chopped straw left, so I will probablly pick up a bag of that and put the leaves in the remainder of the garden to break down. I am concerned about the matting. Not much grass growing either any more. I didn't think about the neighbors leaves, lol. I am sure they would be find with my stealing some if I did need them. :)

I can't believe weather has been similar to Texas. :)

Thanks for all the suggestions!

bower November 20, 2016 02:16 PM

IMO so far, kelp makes the best mulch as it doesn't prevent the garlic from coming up as it shrinks and dries in spring, and doesn't have to be removed. And no weed seeds in it.
I mulched some with leaves and that was fine, only but a few grass seeds got in it.
Mostly mulched with grass clippings last year and I was less pleased. First the birds got into it and tore it apart looking for bugs. I put it back and then realized, it was matted down and keeping the sprouts down. So I took it off. Also I think because of the light color it was keeping the soil colder in spring. Kelp and leaves are dark so will tend to absorb heat which is good for us here anyway.

We are having very warm weather in November as well. Hard to believe my garden is still pretty green, highs up to 60 F or more is not normal for us this time of year.
On the other hand, very wet weather and lots of fog, taken with the short days, not much risk of the garlic breaking ground. I just checked and saw no sprouts. I planted early this year, just a week into October.

svalli November 4, 2017 05:09 AM

Mulching garlic
1 Attachment(s)
Rather than starting new thread, I am hijacking this old one. Yesterday was finally sunny day, so we took the day off from work and drove to our hobby farm. There was already thin layer of snow on the ground, but it is supposed to get warmer, so that snow will be gone in couple of days. My farther-in-law had raked leaves on his yard, so we loaded all the leaves on an old tractor trailer and moved it to next to my garlic beds. Now I have thick layer of leaves on the beds for winter protection. I will remove those in April, when the sun is shining from higher and will warm the black plastic, which is used to suppress weeds during summer.
I am hoping that high winds will not blow off those leaves. The leaves were quite wet and heavy, so light wind will not move them, but a storm could easily blow them away. Last year, I covered the leaves with light weight row cover, but it broke to pieces when I was removing it spring time and the edges were still attached to frozen ground. This year the garlic bed is in a different spot, where the winds cannot blow as hard, so I decided not to cover the leaves with anything. If the top leaves stay frozen, those should keep the leaves on place, even if we do not get a lot of snow this winter.


AlittleSalt November 4, 2017 09:17 AM

Svalli, what a beautiful picture.

I haven't panted garlic yet. The high temperature a couple days ago was 94F = 34C.

oakley November 4, 2017 10:11 AM

Hmm. I don't mulch at all. It could cause big trouble in the Spring
being often very wet when the snow thaws.

The bed is prepped, raked, and near weed free now. I'll be planting
next weekend.

I'll mulch next Spring after a good thaw. After a nice sunny dry week
when I see healthy growth. But all climates are different. Even chopped
leaves are a death sentence anywhere near my garden beds.
Probably use straw like last season.

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