I planted my garlic in mid October this year. I noticed, because of the mild weather Toronto has experienced in November and December, my garlic is 6 inches tall already.
What can I do?
Should I mulch heavily to stop it from growing or will this damage the garlic?
Your advice is greatly appreciated.
You are not alone with this issue this year, as normally the ground would be frozen and the garlic would not have sprouted. Winters in Toronto seem to be very variable, so it is difficult to predict when frosts and freezing will occur.
There are several issues plants have to deal with during the winter, the main one being, changes in temperatures of both air and soil. Most winter damage is done when the ground warms from the sun during the day, and then freezes up again over night – what we call the freeze/thaw cycle. Blocking sunlight in order to help minimize temperature change is the best plan for over wintering all plants.
Mulching with leaves, grass cuttings or straw will help protect your garlic bulbs. A good layer of snow, once it arrives, also acts as a great insulator. The leaf mulch and grass clipping have the further benefit of breaking down and fertilizing your garlic crop. Garlic requires high amounts of nitrogen so extra nutrients are very valuable. Come spring, you may have to remove some of this mulch depending on how much you add now and how much has decomposed.
Here is a link which gives further informtion on growing garlic should you like to read more.