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Garlic and Mulch – A Reader’s Experience

My friend and reader, Lisa and her husband purchased a farm in this area about six years ago. The land had been damaged by conventional farming. They’ve put the emphasis on cover crops to return much needed “life” to the soil and have done other things like mulching when they felt they could.

As you might imagine, this is a big undertaking. Since they, like most of us, don’t have unlimited resources, they can’t always put into practice everything they want to do.

One of the crops they grow to sell is garlic.

Last fall they planted one field without mulch and one field with mulch (straw) as a test.

Garlic in the mulched field before harvest.

Garlic in part of the farm’s mulched field close to harvest time.

When she visited me earlier in the year (garlic bulbs were still small but starting to grow) Lisa was excited to show me some garlic that had been pulled early to see what was happening beneath ground. The smallest bulb was from the field that was not mulched. The larger bulb was from the mulched field.

Visiting again after the harvest in June,  she brought fully mature samples to show me. I was just amazed. Remember now —  we’re talking an entire field of garlic all showing this drastic difference.

bulb on the left is from the unmulched field; one on the right from the mulched field. The egg is for size comparison.

The bulb on the left is from the unmulched field; one on the right, from the mulched field. The egg is for size comparison.


Garlic curing.

Garlic curing on the set up that Lisa’s husband made.


Garlic curing.

A closer view of the garlic curing.

The Story Gets More Interesting

When they lived in Arlington, Virginia their neighbor’s mother came to visit from Tennessee and gifted them with 3 bulbs of this un-named variety of hard neck garlic.  (If I recall correctly they named the garlic ‘Taylor’ after the gift-giver.)

They grew it 5 years in Arlington and have grown it 6 years here.

The variety is now very well adapted to the growing conditions of these two areas.  It’s always the biggest of the varieties they grow.

The flavor is not as hot as some garlics, but rather has a milder, more subtle flavor.

My Plans for Taylor Garlic

Taylor garlic is on my list for fall planting.  I’m particular excited about it since it is already perfectly adapted to this area.

Visiting the Farm

Fortunately, I had an opportunity to visit Lisa and her husband recently and see all the wonderful things they’re doing with their property.

I especially enjoyed seeing Lisa open a laying box and reach under one of the more gentle hens and get an egg.  These eggs are the best!  Those hens scratch around the ground and when feed is supplemented, rest assured it’s organic feed.

How I Got to Know Lisa

When Bill was critically ill early in 2015 Lisa sent me an email that I will keep and treasure forever.

Lisa had read the post updating TMG readers on Bill and what we were experiencing.  Also, read all your wonderful comments of encouragement to me.  She then sent me an email with the subject line “tmg reader and neighbor”.

She introduced herself and said, “We all (meaning all of you) want to help you, but I’m in the unique geographical position to do so. ––– I propose that you allow me to drop off some eggs,  I can leave them on your stoop, no doorbells, no obligations to chat.  We’ll leave that for later.  I would also like to bring you anything else you may need –––. ––– This offer does not expire.”

I’m glad the offer had no expiration date, because it was only after Bill started to improve months later in May that I could accept her offer.

Suffice it to say that this friendship founded with Lisa (and her husband) in the most difficult of times has meant so much to me.

Final Thoughts

If you live in our area (Virginia and/or zone 7) and want to raise garlic that is already conditioned for the area, email me (or tell me in the comments section below) and I’ll put you in touch with Lisa.

Eggs and potatoes are also available at the farm.  And other vegetables in season.


All content including photos is copyrighted by  All Rights Reserved.

19 comments to Garlic and Mulch – A Reader’s Experience

  • Betty Taylor

    Beautiful story and beautiful garlic!

  • Aileen

    Can a mulch of straw/hay keep a hay field from intruding into the garden? Can it prevent hay from growing up in the garden. It is too much right now to turn the whole planting area but would like to mulch between the raised beds to keep the hay and other weeds from intruding. One small raised bed, at a time. Also, I will assume the method to grow garlic is the same as any other deeply drilled and treated (organic matter) raised bed. I also have ginger and turmeric that I want to grow in same area (around the outskirts of the vegetable garden. Thanks so much.

  • I read your article with great pleasure; we grow alliums and herbs here at Jackson Farm ( ) and I would like to get a few bulbs of the Taylor garlic to try in North Carolina. How can I get some to plant this fall ?
    Tom Jackson

  • Amy

    Loving your real life stories as always Theresa. You have such a way with words. Fascinating results for the garlic under the straw. Btw, I would love to grow Lisa’s garlic.

  • Lisa’s kind offer, with no expectations of you answering the door when you had no energy for socializing, and “no expiry” so that you could wait until you were ready, is a model of consideration and respect. I will remember it for occasions when I want to offer help to someone experiencing serious illness in the family. So often the recipient does not have the time or energy to chat, and if you’re still a stranger, it is even more difficult in an intensely private time. How wonderful that you have gained such a lovely friend nearby through your blog.

  • Don Rutherford


    I was just reading about different types of garlic and I want to grow garlic with those qualities, but it gets very cold here in Michigan and I don’t know if they are suited for our conditions. I am growing the hard neck German garlic as it is the best for hard winters.

    I have harvested some of the scapes and they were very good, but I learned too late that you are supposed to pick them early (the scapes).

    The garlic bulbs are not quite ready. They are mulched, so I am hoping for some big ones. I didn’t plant very much, but I don’t eat that much.

    Lisa and her husband sound like such nice wonderful people. How refreshing in today’s world.


  • Gail Griffith


    What a lovely story! Yes, I would like some Taylor garlic and to let Lisa and her husband know how impressed I am with their garlic crop and the curing shed set up.

    We had a very good garlic year…ours are curing in the basement; we had a good dry spell and harvested just before a heavy rain. So nice not having to pull them out of mud. The past couple of years, the timing wasn’t right, and a lot of wrappers were gone by the time we could get in to harvest. We use straw mulch as well.

    Green blessings,


  • Gene Smith

    I’m in Greenville SC, with an urban, no till, heavily mulched garden. I have been looking for a hardneck garlic just like the “Taylor” variety you described, please put me in touch with Lisa, thanks

  • Patricia

    Beautiful story. And they sure know what they’re doing with their garlic. Looks beautiful! I would like to order some for the fall planting.

  • Barbara Elkin

    I would love to get some of the Taylor garlic. Please let me know how to reach Lisa. Thanks so much. Barbara

  • Maryethel Miller

    Loved the story. I would like to know how to get some of the garlic, also. Thanks.

  • Toni Brock

    What a wonderful story! I am so relieved to hear you have such great”neighbors”
    On the garlic side of things: i did not mulch my garlic as thick this year as I did last year and my garlic was much smaller this year. Also, a lot of it split and will have to be used right up.
    I have a question for you and Lisa.
    How do you get your garlic so clean and beautiful? I try to clean mine but it looks so dirty no matter what I have tried. So I feel bad sharing it since it looks kind of bad. I do love the taste tho

  • ronda

    I’m always very interested to see your pictures/posts and see how your coming along in your garden. Your sweet neighbor, Lisa, has touched my heart with her kindness towards you and also given me more inspiration to “do likewise” when the opportunity arises. In your giving of yourself (time, information, inspiration) to us as readers of your blog, you have received as well. How wonderful! Thank you for sharing this story. Also, I would love to purchase some of the Taylor garlic especially since it has been adapted to growing in my (VA) climate.

  • Theresa

    Thank you so much for your wonderful response to this post.
    I too felt that Lisa’s words were so considerate and just the right ones needed for the situation at the time.

    As Heather pointed out by saying that she will remember Lisa’s words, I think Lisa’s kindness has inspired and it will have a rippling effect and touch many through all of you.

    Aileen, you mentioned straw/hay as mulch. You may want to review my post

    I understand from what you said that you are not able to prepare the ground properly now in mid season. Thus, heavy mulch (straw, pine needles, dried grass clippings, wood chips) will “help” keep the weeds down. It would certainly be better than leaving the bare ground to collect even more weeds.

    But in order to be almost free of weeds, all weeds and their roots need to be removed and then put down mulch. Then as time passes, and weeds that were missed show themselves, you’ll continue to remove them until finally a weed seldom shows itself in your beds or paths.

    When you say raised beds — do you mean framed raised beds or naturally raised beds (raised by double digging) as described in my book?

    And yes, garlic likes a soil with high organic matter.

    Hope this helps Aileen.

    Toni, my garlic doesn’t look so clean and beautiful either. As soon as she can, I’m sure Lisa will get on here and leave an answer for you about how she does it.

    To all who expressed interest in obtaining Lisa’s Taylor garlic: I’ll be in touch soon.

  • mike

    please provide contact info for “Taylor” garlic

  • Jennifer Smith

    What a wonderful friendship and beautiful story!

    I, , too, am in the VA (the Fauquier County area) and am very interested in trying some Taylor garlic! It sounds perfect for my home garden and the flavor sounds like just what my family prefers!

  • angie

    I have not had much luck, surprisingly, with garlic in the Williamsburg area and would love to try Lisa’s garlic. Please share her contact info and will give it a try.

  • Susan Leitson

    Hi Theresa,

    I never tire of reading your “nutritious” blogs! Now I know how Lisa of much recent and extremely beneficial help came into your life. What a blessing she and her husband are. You know that’s God taking care of you and you’re reaping all the help you’ve sown into OUR lives with your books and the blessed TMG website.

    I’m so glad. I’d like to get the Taylor garlic she grows as well.

    When I found this post, I was looking to find out how thick I needed to mulch my vegetable garden with straw. I’m hoping it’s not too late to plant buckwheat and then put the straw over it. How thick should the straw be?

    The field peas that I pulled out last year grew on the outskirts of my garden as well as in the garden. We like the various peas-purple hull, black eyed, pink, brown but they take over and climb the over the okra, tomatoes, chard, you name it. I’m not sure what t do about it.

    Thanks for all you do for us. Oh, we’re in Knoxville, TN.

    Mulch love and blessings,

  • Theresa

    Susan, I sent you an email telling you how to contact Lisa.

    I don’t know what your first frost date is.(Buckwheat is killed by freeze or heavy frost)
    It only takes about 4 or 5 weeks to get enough growth to benefit your soil
    It takes about 7 or 8 weeks to reach maturity.
    So assuming you have at least a month until a freeze, I would go ahead and plant.

    You’ll only need a “covering” of mulch on the seed. You can add more once it’s up but in the end
    you won’t need more than an inch of settled mulch, if that much.

    Bare soil, and veggies like cukes, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, etc. can take up to a foot of mulch.
    Beans, lettuces, etc. can take a thin layer when first planted and then continue to add more and more
    during growth until the soil is covered. (A guesstimate would be a total of an inch or more of settled mulch.) Each thin layer of mulch will sift down through the plants to the soil.

    In order for various peas not to reseed you have to cut them or turn them in BEFORE they set seed.
    When I plant various peas as a cover, I let them seed anyway because it’s not hard to pull them
    up in the spring. I also collect some of the seed to save for planting the next time around.

    I am so pleased that TMG has helped you! Thanks for letting me know.

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