Caring For Garlic

Home grown garlic can be disappointing- small bulbs, bulbs with only one big soft clove, no bulb. The causes of unsatisfactory production come down to the quality of the 'seed', growing conditions, the variety, the vagaries of the season, and disease.
Garlic has a relatively shallow root system and is sensitive to dry soil conditions. The amount of water to apply will depend on soil type. The most critical stage for irrigation is during bulbing (end of May to mid July). Lack of irrigation or rainfall during this stage will result in smaller bulbs and earlier maturity. Irrigation should be stopped about two weeks before harvest to avoid stained bulb wrappers and diseases.
Fertilize garlic in the early spring by side dressing lightly with a slow release granular organic fertilizer; that is all the fertilizer for the season.  Optional but helpful -  garlic likes a foliar spray every two weeks in the spring of fish emulsion with kelp. After June 1st no more fertilizing of any kind.

Mulch should be temporarily removed in the spring after the threat of hard freezes is over, generally the second week of April. Garlic shoots can tolerate air temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit without damage. Plant death, multiple shoots, and poor bulb development may occur if bulbs and shoots are exposed to temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Some gardeners remove the mulch completely in the spring to allow the soil to warm faster, then return the mulch after the shoots are about six inches tall; others will leave the mulch in the between-row areas. In cool springs, complete removal of the mulch may be beneficial.
Pruning Flowers
If you see a flower stalk shoot up, cut it back to above 2 inches of the top set of leaves. It's an attempt on the plant's part to flower, but allowing it to form will deplete the bulb.

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