Now is the time to plant ramps.
Say what? Aren’t these wild? Yes, ramps, which are wild leeks, are often harvested wild, but since they are difficult to find and in serious danger of being over-harvested in the wild, you can grow your own. All you need is a forested area on your property.
Ramps prefer sites under beech, birch, sugar maple and/or poplar trees, but will do OK under hickory, oak and other hardwoods. They want rich, moist soil high in organic matter, and will grow well where you find trillium, bloodroot, trout lily and may apple.
Loosen the soil to about 6 inches deep, removing any leaves, roots, weeds and tree sprouts, adding compost or organic matter if needed.
You can plant ramp seeds, but they must go through both a warm cycle and cold cycle before sprouting, which can take up to 18 months. After that, you’ll be waiting another five to seven years before they are of harvestable size. That’s why most people plant bulbs, which can produce harvestable plants in two to three years. Plant the bulbs 3 inches deep, about 4 to 6 inches apart.
Hardwood leaves – exactly what the ramps would have in nature – are the preferred mulch. The University of North Carolina Cooperative Extension says commercial mulches have inhibited growth so should be avoided.
My wife and I got the bulbs (and a few seeds) we will be planting this year from Sunshine Farm and Gardens in Renick, West Virginia. I’ll let you know how they come out in two to three years.
— TOM ATWELL