I like to add a thick layer of straw mulch or chopped leaves after planting my garlic or, better yet, wait until the ground has gotten good and cold in November and then add the mulch. Next spring, as soon as the ground starts to thaw, pull back most of the mulch, leaving just a couple of inches. The garlic leaves will easily push up through this mulch. The latest recommendations are to fertilize once as soon as you see the first garlic leaves emerging, then again one month later. That is all the extra fertilizer they need.
Garlic loves cool weather, so most of your growth will occur in spring. Keep it well-watered and weeded, and sit back and watch.
If you have the hardneck type of garlic, it will produce a flowering scape that grows into a big curlicue. It helps to remove those scapes to direct energy back to the bulb. The scapes are edible and are especially nice sauteed or used as a garnish.
The other type of garlic is softneck, and it does not produce scapes. To tell what kind you have, look for a hard stem in the center of the head of garlic. Hardneck types have that hard central stem; softnecks do not. Both are delicious and hardy in our climate.
Wait to harvest your garlic until about half of the leaves have yellowed, sometime in July.
For more information about growing garlic, you can call our office or visit Cornell’s Growing Guides pages at: http://is.gd/zSAMH7.
Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: www.cce.cornell.edu/ecgardening. Email questions to askMG@cornell.edu.