Mulch and Mulching
Mulch is a vital part of growing garlic. It is a must for overwintering, and can be a big help for weed suppression during the growing season. OnPoint Garlic uses chopped, clean straw from reputable local sources. Straw is better than hay as straw has less potential for weeds incorporating into your soil. However, it is 2 to 3 times the cost. We rent a straw chopper and spread at least 2" to 4" on top of all of our beds within days of planting and fertilizing. We do the same in the spring to double up for weed control. It's a little more difficult to lay it down when the plants are up, but it is well worth the extra effort.
Some farms use compost derived from leaves or grasses, but these can be quite pricey and hard to find. Others have graduated to using plastic mulch. This is a thin layer of plastic approximately 3' to 4' wide secured on the ground by shoveling dirt by hand or rolled on with a tractor implement. The first method is very difficult and must be done on a day without wind. The second method requires you to purchase a piece of equipment. If you plan to sell garlic using organic principles, you must dispose of the plastic in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.