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Late Winter and Early Spring Care

Updated: Mar 1

It's mid-February here on the farm and we've had a relatively mild Winter so far. Currently our snow cover has been melted off for several weeks and the garlic has begun to emerge under its fabric mulch cover. Later this week we will remove the covers, folding them up for use next year. We expect to get more snow and freezing temperatures before our weather finally settles into warmer temps in mid-May. Snow and freezing temperatures are not a concern, but if temperatures dip below 15*F we can experience a die-back of the garlic tops. This is usually not very detrimental to the overall bulb potential, but the tips will remain brown as the plant continues to grow.



The most important thing we do right now is take weekly walks through our garlic to observe and monitor growth and watch for signs of stress or disease. In our early walks we are looking for plants that are not emerging and finding out why. Most often it is trapped underneath the mulch and just needs a little help through. We also see cloves that were:

  • Planted upside down.

  • Planted too deep.

  • Collected by gophers and other rodents.

  • Rotted due to damage, disease, poor drainage, etc.


For us Northern growers it is generally unnecessary to irrigate this early in the season, but if your soil is dry you will need to begin to apply about 1" of water per week.


Once your garlic has reached about 3-4" and your soil temperatures are above 50*F you may begin fertilizing your garlic by applying compost, composted manure, fish fertilizer, blood meal, worm tea or castings, or your favorite balanced fertilizer.

If you experience a late cold snap where temperatures are expected to get below 20*F and your garlic is over 8" tall, consider adding mulch around your garlic greens to protect them from the freeze. When it warms up you can gently pull the mulch back off the plants.

I hope this helps you weather the last of the cold temperatures and get your garlic plants off to a great start.

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Wish I had known that when we, here in Tumwater, had a couple weeks of below normal temps with the garden freezing so hard I couldn't get a shovel in it. My garlic tops grew to about 4-6 inches in the fall (planted mid November) and look ok for now but are a little limp. Hopefully they recover. We have had rain so moisture isn't a problem. I don't expect temperatures to get lower than 32 now. I plan to add compost when it warms up a bit more.


Hello, which fertilizer brand would you recommend for garlic? Thank you

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