Have Your Ramps and Plant Them, Too


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!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on April 18, 2010  

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15 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 4-18

    Oh….!!! :o You have Trillium!!! :hissyfit: And! I see wild phlox (wild Sweet William, Phlox divaricata, or is that Creeping Phlox, Phlox stolonifera?) Now I KNOW you are the luckiest farmer in the world! :happyflower: Loved learning about ramps, thank you.

  2. 4-18

    Colorful and yummy looking pizza!

  3. 4-18

    There are ramps here in SW Michigan, too. It’s a big deal at the fancy restaurants this time of year. My house is in the middle of a cornfield, though, so no nice woodsy area for them here. Boo hoo, because that pizza looks amazing!

  4. 4-18

    Yesterday on the Simply Recipe’s blog, Elsie posed a recipe for ramp and parsley pesto. Check it out here!

  5. 4-18

    I’ve never heard of ramps before, but now I’m craving them! That pizza looks de-lish!


  6. 4-18

    I’m sure you already know this….but just harvest no more than half of your ramp crop so they will continue to multiply in the coming years. Unscrupulous diggers that usually are looking for large harvests for the community dinners that will clean out the patch, making sure the patch will die out in the future. Thank goodness not all diggers are ramp hogs and understand the importance of leaving some! I’ve heard some areas in WV where ramps were abundant are hard put to come up with because of this situation. We’re waiting for a dinner to attend, but I like our own home cooked ramp dinners just for us better! Enjoy your ramps! Becky in Morgantown (but raised in Webster County)

  7. 4-18

    How do you tell a ramp from anything else? I’d be a little scared because I don’t have any true country people around who “know these things” and even though my backyard smells of onion, I think it’s ‘Star of Bethlehem’ which I heard was poisonous. Ramps don’t look like Star of Bethlehem but the leaves do look like lily of the valley to me, though I’m sure the smell is not the same.

    I also know that I have horseradish growing out back but can’t tell it from burdock when it first leafs out. Can you advertise for a wise country person to come and teach you stuff? Cause I sure need one. I also want to be sure what elderberry blossoms look like ’cause they make great wine and even non-alcoholic beverages but they look like some other plant too. I can’t remember what.

    Around here, trillium in bloom means the smelt run. Wonder if that’s happened already?

  8. 4-18

    I have never heard of ramps! Thanks for the lesson!

  9. 4-18

    lavenderblue, ramps have broad green leaves–just look closely at my photographs in the posts I linked here. They stink to high heaven when you pull them up, you know you’ve got ramps!

  10. 4-18

    What a wonderful walk back in time… I was just talking to my mother about going to the woods with my grandmother for leeks (can never remember, the term ramps.) I have been curious as to rather we may have some here in our woods. I would soooo love to find them if they are out there. God only knows, we have lots of wet land.

    And I was wondering what those plants were called (Trilliums) hmmm, now, I know what I dug up a few years ago and transplanted in the wet area of our yard. LOL Thanks for clearing that up for me.


  11. 4-18

    I love readin’ this blog – it’s all so familiar to how i grew up :) My dad loves ramps and down where they live when they’re in season the local church puts on a ramp dinner :) and you can smell them cookin “)

  12. 4-19

    We were in Cincinnati this past weekend visiting friends. We saw ramps at a grocery store there. They were $24.99 a pound, OR you could get about 6-10 of them for $4.00. Scott and I were so amused.

    We also saw Morel mushrooms. Those were like $70.00 a pound. By chance have you ever found those on the farm? You’d love them, and they’re up about this time of year.

  13. 4-19

    I am from CT, and I’ve never heard of ramps….Thank you so much for the information…I love to learn new things!

  14. 4-20

    Love, love, love your blog and can not wait to read more. First time and I’ll be back and visit often! This one I enjoyed cause I can hardly wait each spring for the trillium to bloom and I have even successfully transplanted a couple. Didn’t know I could eat my ramps and plant them too. We don’t have any on our home property but found a few growing at our cabin in the mountains. Be Blessed there on your farm!

  15. 4-21

    We were driving home from our monthly shopping trip to the “big city” (Parkersburg lol…ok, sometimes we go to Clarksburg) and what does R see at the side of the road not far from our house: a cardboard sign marked RAMPS.

    So, we stopped and bought one bunch. I cut the bulbs off and will plant them under some trees tomorrow…and then I started on the leaves.

    Well, I just made your Bruschetta recipe…oh my almost heaven! It’s so darn delish! Thank you for sharing it. I’m going to go eat more. :D

    Our ramp seller will be back on Friday or Saturday – we’ll get more.

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