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A Garden of Ramps

Apr
13

Do you see them?
img_63783
Here scattered over the hillside on our farm?
img_63761
Ramps!
img_63772
And more ramps!
img_63804
Ramps where there were no ramps before.


Ramps (Alliium tricoccum) or wild leeks are the superbly stinky April delight of Appalachia. Both the white root parts and the leafy greens are edible. Ramps are most often served fried in bacon fat with eggs and/or potatoes and served with pinto beans and cornbread, but they can be used in just about any recipe similar to how you would use onions or garlic. In recent years, ramps have become a trendy gourmet item and in some places can be quite expensive. They grow in the dark, rich woodland soil near streams or on hillsides across the Appalachian region. In West Virginia, springtime is the time of community ramp festivals and ramp dinners, roadside ramp stands, and, for the intrepid, ramp-hunting in the wild.

Last spring, I hunted ramps on our farm and came up empty-handed. Not to be deterred, I “networked” my way onto a neighboring farmer’s hillside and brought home a pungent bagful to start my own garden of ramps. I planted some after cutting off the root ends and planted others whole, bulbs and leaves attached. I chose several shady areas of a seemingly ramp-friendly hillside on our farm and deposited my ramp dreams among them.

Truthfully, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that I’d see these ramps come up. I was sure it had to be harder than that. I was sure I’d have to plant ramps over and over and maybe they’d never take.

But– My ramps came up! Seriously, I was stunned to see them. I did it! I have my very own hillside “garden” of ramps!

I found my ramps coming up in numerous locations on the hillside where I planted them last year. (So many that it seems to have made no difference whether I cut the root ends off before planting or not–I think they all came up.) It’ll take time for these ramps to establish and spread, so I won’t be cooking with my own ramps anytime soon. Ramps multiply quickly, though. Every spring, there will be more and more. In a few years, there will be enough to harvest. I’ll have great, big, gorgeous patches of them, just like on the farm where I got my starter plants last April.

I can’t wait!

Interested in growing ramps? See more about hunting ramps, and planting them, here: Finding and Growing Ramps.

And for tips on preparing ramps, and a few recipe ideas, go here: Cooking with Wild Ramps.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on April 13, 2009  

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Comments

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  1. 4-13
    3:23
    am

    I’m so happy they came back up for you! The gardener of everything — if you don’t have it, plant it!! I never knew about ramps before this blog and forum!! I can’t wait to see if I have those — there’s something on the hill I’ve always just thought was some type of bulb flower that just never flowered!

    :happyflower: That is the cutest picture of Morgan and Coco — Giant Puppies make good pillows, too! :happyflower:

  2. 4-13
    3:49
    am

    There comes a time here in Western North Carolina where all you smell in the air is ramps….and, at that time one of the charities takes the whole weekend and builds ramps onto houses for the handicapped. Clever huh?

  3. 4-13
    5:08
    am

    oh you think you’ll have ramps do you???

    just when you think you’ve got if covered, you’ll go out one day to see the ramps missing and a strange little chubby figure running away fast in the distance carrying a mysterious bag of green leafy things.
    hehehehe.

    i don’t have ramps, a farm, or a shadowy hillside, but i do have this strange onion smelling plant growing out from where i buried my kitchen scraps. man, the onion family are hardy little things aren’t they.

  4. 4-13
    5:14
    am

    Ramps! Huh! I never knew they were called that! We have been noticing the wild onions are coming up around here too. Ours are decidedly NOT ramps. The greens are much smaller on ours. David and I found some this weekend while easter egg hunting with our kids. (We were tromping all over a huge semi-wooded property of a friend.) I was suprised to see them so early in the season! :heart:

  5. 4-13
    6:07
    am

    Wow…news to me. I’ve never heard of them. I have to get out more!

  6. 4-13
    6:07
    am

    Ramps and eggs! One of the best Springtime camping breakfasts out there. Thank you for your post today. Brought back memories and lots of smiles.

  7. 4-13
    6:20
    am

    I have never heard of ramps, so this was interesting!
    I loved the photo of Coco and Morgan…it was wonderful!!!

    The Retirement Chronicles

  8. 4-13
    6:28
    am

    Gotta love wild food! :snoopy:

  9. 4-13
    6:38
    am

    Do you think those could grow in Indiana? I was wandering around in our woods yesterday and found a giant clump of something growing that looked just like those. I’ve never really heard anyone talk about ramps around here though. But I’d never heard of a paw paw until I moved here either.

  10. 4-13
    7:45
    am

    yummy….fried potatoes, scrambled aggs….don’t forget beans and ramp dip!

  11. 4-13
    8:02
    am

    Back in my hiking days I heard people raving about ramps in NC and other places we hiked, but I never had the pleasure of meeting one (a ramp, that is). For a while I was convinced it was a joke on newcomers – sort of like “let’s go snipe hunting”. Congratulations on your real life ramps!

    Cool picture of the Princess and the Giant Puppy.

  12. 4-13
    8:03
    am

    I didn’t know you could transplant ramps. We enjoy them with potatoes and bacon. We’ve never gone ramp hunting, but I knew it was getting to be that time of year because I saw a fellow selling them from the back of truck at Walmart the other day. My family has a selective memory about ramps. They act like they don’t like them until I fix them, and they gobble them all down. Same thing year after year…

  13. 4-13
    9:03
    am

    I didnt know about ramps either. I remember my grandmothers first vist to our new house.She was walking up the driveway then started squealing…that’s polk! You’ve got polk growing everywhere! Didnt know what it was til then. She took some home to cook it up,ha,ha!

  14. 4-13
    9:48
    am

    I saw someone selling them on the roadside down by Corridor G the other day. I really wanted to stop and get a few of them to try, but I was promptly told “NO!”. :no:

    Blaze said if I ate them I would be sleeping out side.

  15. 4-13
    11:10
    am

    We have a small hill behind our house but it’s not moist so no ramps but we do get the wild onions and/or wild garlic. I love anything in that family. Fantastic picture of the Princess and Coco – where’s Annabelle lol.

  16. 4-13
    2:00
    pm

    Congrats on the success of your ramps!

  17. 4-13
    3:31
    pm

    Do you know anything about a Ramp Dinner at Brohard, WV..and when it might be. We went last year and it was in April but we cannot find info on it this year.

  18. 4-13
    3:36
    pm

    Hi! No, I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about that.

  19. 4-13
    4:38
    pm

    Hi Suzanne,
    I’m so happy your ramps are multiplying.
    What do they taste like?

  20. 4-14
    8:22
    am

    Suzanne, would you provide your mailing address?? I gotta little suprise for you!!

  21. 4-15
    5:18
    pm

    Hi Suzanne,
    I have been following your blog a bit for a while now,and when I saw your post on Ramps I was instantly transformed back in time when I was alittle girl, My dad’s side of the family is from and still lives around Romney WV and I remember my Great Uncle Jennings hunting and eating Ramps, My Grandmother would say he had eaten so many ramps that they were coming out of his skin, of course I didn’t know what that meant until later when my mom told me that uncle Jennings ate so many that when he was sweating he smelled like strong onions. I am 32 now and my Uncle Jennings and Great Grandma have left us so it was bitter sweet remembering, Thank you for the post, I am glad I remembered!!!
    Dana

  22. 5-2
    2:59
    pm

    all we have are these onion like things that look kinda like chives and taste a bit like garlic … they grow in grassy areas … like our lawn. I transplanted some to the garden and they are growing really well!

  23. 12-7
    9:15
    am

    Here in Quebec it illegal to pick more than 50 ( if I recall correctly) but in Ontario, where my parents still live, I pick them freely on my parents land and we pickle them,,,they are to say the least delicious and we get to enjoy them for a bit longer that way.

  24. 1-18
    12:56
    am

    :lol: When I read the title, I thought what kinda of crazy to have to go hunting ramps that people use to enter their house when in a wheelchair. Must be a local thing. I didn’t know wild leeks were called “ramps”. But, in my part of TX we call a toboggan the knit cap you wear on your head when it’s cold. Words are interesting aren’t they?

  25. 4-1
    7:41
    pm

    You may be interested in this site:

    http://www.rampfarm.com/catalog.htm

    Or my article on ramps:
    http://www.squidoo.com/WILD_LEEKS_RAMPS

    This is the season and I am ever eager to gather those beauties.

  26. 5-18
    6:38
    pm

    How much of the bulb did you leave when you cut off the roots to plant. I’m planting Ramps on my property and eating and freezing a lot that we pick. If the root will grow I will plant them, we are traveling 4 hours to pick them and want to establish a local patch.

  27. 5-18
    6:41
    pm

    Robert, you can see a post here where I show how I cut them:
    http://chickensintheroad.com/blog/2010/04/18/have-your-ramps-and-plan-them-too/

  28. 5-18
    6:49
    pm

    Thanks, you are leaving a fair amount of the bulb on the root. I will try different amounts to see what works in a test plot. Will be picking more up north (Michigan) later this week.

  29. 6-21
    10:53
    am

    Have you ever planted the tops? A lot of the last batch of ramps we collected were going to seed (no leaves), We cut off the tops with a bit of the bulb and stuck them into the ground, so far after about two weeks they look good, the flowers have not wilted. I’m wondering if the seeds will develop and be viable. It will be interesting to see if they will develop roots or not.

  30. 7-23
    6:23
    pm

    I heard Martha Stewart discussing ramps on her TV show with a famous chef in NYC. I wondered what they were talking about and now I know. Thanks for the info.
    Darlene

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