A big ol’ haul of delight. Ramps!
The trilliums are blooming!
That means it’s time for ramps! We are lucky in that our farm is just chockfull of the ever-so-lovely trilliums. But ramps? Nary a one. So we had to import ramps to get a “wild” ramp garden started. I planted my first ramps on our farm two springs ago. (See Finding and Growing Ramps.)
Ramps (Alliium tricoccum) or wild leeks are the odiferous April bounty of Appalachia. The white parts can be used in cooking similar to a strong onion or garlic. The leafy greens are edible as well. They can be found in patches on hillsides and near streams in shady, forested areas. If you don’t have ramps on your property now, you can buy them in bunches from roadside stands everywhere at this time of year. But don’t stop there! Have your ramps and plant them, too!
Start working with your ramps outside. (The chickens will be happy to help.)
You can rinse the worst of the dirt off in a bucket.
Cut off the root-ends.
The root-ends can be planted to grow more ramps! And the delicious, stinky rest can be taken inside to be further cleaned and eaten. (YUM.)
Bag up your ramp tops and take ‘em somewhere likely. Bring a shovel. And 52. Cuz he’s great for doing the dirty work.
Ramps love dark, rich woodland soil, so find them a moist, shady spot. Boomer’ll probably want to come with you. He attends all farming events, you know.
Okay, and the chickens, too. Sorry for all the company.
Stick ‘em in the ground and cover ‘em up. Ramps are easy to grow.
The ramps I planted the first year came up great. (See A Garden of Ramps.) I planted more last year, and I’m planting again this year. In a few more years, I’ll finally be able to harvest ramps right here. For now, I need to leave them alone, let them grow and spread. My cousin knows my penchant for ramps, so he brings me some every year as soon as he sees them out at the roadside stands. And I plant them! And eat them!
Once you’ve got the tops off and planted, take the rest inside to finish washing up.
Ramps are commonly served fried in bacon fat with eggs and/or potatoes and with pinto beans and cornbread, but you can use them in any case where you’d use garlic or onion. They are NOT the toxic bomb of odor as legend has it. They’re really not much stronger than garlic or onion. And they’ve got GREAT flavor! You can buy ramps in gourmet or specialty stores (and even online–do an internet search to find them) in other parts of the country if you’re not lucky enough to live in the Appalachian region. Whether or not they will grow where you are–who knows. Wherever you are, if you get hold of some ramps, cut off the root-ends and try! (Why not?) If you live in Appalachia, there’s no reason not to grow them if you’ve got any good spot of rich shade on your property.
I’ve got some recipe ideas for ramps here: Cooking with Wild Ramps.
And here’s another one–I call this Hillbilly Chick Pizza. Hillbilly for the ramps, and chick because it’s vegetarian.
Pizza with tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella (FROM MY COW!), and chopped ramps–white parts and greens. Best thing ever!!!
Go plant some ramps!