Is it too early to pull the mulch off my garlic plants?
The garlic I planted last fall — Russian Red and Italian varieties from FedCo — are coming up with green shoots now well above the straw mulch I put down. It still gets cold at night, low 30s, and we had wet snow yesterday. Should I go ahead and pull the mulch off? Leave it on until the nights are a bit warmer? The straw is about 3″ thick and I planted in a raised bed, 10″ boards directly on the ground.
David Fuller, Agriculture and Non-Timber Forest Products Professional IV
It’s best to leave the mulch on the garlic. Mulch helps to minimize weed pressure and reduces the need to irrigate. If you see a skip in your planting, just pull the mulch back from that plant, otherwise, leave the mulch until harvest time. When the garlic is 6-8 inches tall, sprinkle a tablespoon of blood meal beside each plant on top of the mulch to make bigger tops and bigger bulbs.
For more information, see this University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #2063, Growing Hardneck Garlic in Your Maine Garden.