Mulch Holding the Frost

UncleJohn(z4 NH)April 4, 2005

Now that the snow is finally gone here in New Hampshire, I notice that my garlic beds are the only thing still frozen, thanks to the generous mulch I applied last fall. The mulch itself is still frozen solid. Is this a problems? Should I remove the mulch in layers, allowing the next section to thaw? Or should I just chill, and allow nature to take its course?

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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

You might try spreading a sheet of black plastic? I'd think that would thaw it pretty quick.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 1:28PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

Leave it alone! You might fluff it up a bit to allow the soil to breathe but otherwise it's doing no harm. Black plastic isn't a good idea as it will quickly cook the garlic. The few extra days of frozen ground is just a minor trade-off over winter kill.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 12:37AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Here the temps got almost up to 70 degrees today. I am now seeing my winter rye finally taking off again.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 9:31PM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

Martin - Good to hear from a fellow zone 4er. I have been taking the top layer of mulch off to expose the frozen stuff below. The few spots below that were thawed all the way down, the shoots look great. Do you leave your garlic mulched all season? (I was reading in another thread that mulch can hold in too much moisture and invite disease) Should I replace the mulch asap, or let it air out and dry a little first (it is quite wet now)?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 11:49PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

John, you indeed may have read "that" but it wasn't from any garlic growing expert! You should have left the mulch in place and allowed the garlic to grow up through it. No matter if you use shredded leaves or straw, both would be gone by July. I've used shredded leaves for years simply because they are so convenient and there's never a problem with the garlic growing up through it. If you have a major moisture problem, it's not due to the mulch but rather the location and soil.

Garlic doesn't like competition. Leaving that mulch on will prevent 99% of any potential weed problems. But since you already have removed it, you may as well leave it off. Putting it back on now may risk bending or breaking some tender shoots. Next year, plan to leave it on.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 12:42AM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

Thanks Martin. I may replace it carefully around the shoots. It will take some effort, but at this point I am eager for some quality garden time.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 8:47AM
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