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I'm about to plant garlic bulbs in a raised bed, and I'm located in hardiness zone 7. It's fall now—what do I need to do to protect them over the winter?

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Assuming that the garlic don't sprout before the ground freezes, you don't have to do anything; the bulbs are perfectly hardy on their own. I'm in zone 5 and have never had issues with frost heave because the bulbs have rooted before the ground freezes. The raised bed really should not be an issue - garlic is hardy to at least zone 4, if not zone 3.

If the bulbs do sprout during the late fall or early winter, you're in such a warm zone (compared to me, at least) that you may get some frost-nipping on the leaves, but this won't affect the growth or size of the bulbs. If you still want to be on the safe side, though, you can always cover the sprouted leaves with a loose mulch - dry oak leaves, or even pine boughs (from a discarded Christmas tree). I don't like using straw or hay because rodents tend to like living in them and can damage or eat the bulbs.

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  • So true, garlic is hardy to at least usda zone 4. Rabbits and mice don't touch it
    – kevinskio
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 2:02
  • I don't have any particular issues with ones that do sprout - they typically survive the winter (4/5 who can tell these days..) just fine. Garlic-loving voles, on the other hand, can be a problem, sprout or no sprout.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 15:45
  • @Ecnerwal - I have had the same experience - a bit of frost-nipping on the leaves hasn't had any affect on the harvest as far as I can tell. I definitely plant them later now than I did 20+ years ago. I haven't planted my 2023 crop yet - temps are in the 70s today and 60s until late next week. Looks like I'll have to wait until closer to Thanksgiving to get them in the ground.
    – Jurp
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 21:55
  • I would not wait on that account. I am not waiting on that account (similar temps here, after it gets nippy tonight.) I might suggest a test row, patch, or whatever. I found I was waiting way too long, far too often, when I started to pay attention to things like the garlic that got away from us and went unharvested put in a pretty decent crop, having pretty much planted itself in July/August, albeit a bit too densely and clustered, since it wasn't dug up, sorted and split. I don't generally plant that soon, but I have actually planted a few like that to see.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 2:33

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