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Ramp cultivation - Allium tricoccum

 
pollinator
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Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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Ramps are a cultural food in West Virginia.  Community fire stations often stage spring Ramp Feeds as fundraisers.  You can buy bundles of them from trucks parked by the side of the road.

A couple of years ago, I decided to try to introduce them on my Kentucky property.  The bundles usually contain the entire plant, roots and all.  So I stuck some in the moist spots in my woods.  I've had limited success with return plants.  But reading up a bit, I think I've been planting on the wrong side of the hill.  Shade is hard to come by on my east facing slope this early in the season.

I just discovered a WV ramp farmer, Glen Facemire, Jr., and have ordered his book and some seeds.  I look forward to learning more about cultivation.

Does anyone here have experience and advice for me?

ETA Well, I swear I did a search before posting the new thread, but this one popped up only afterwards: https://permies.com/t/10073/Ramp-bulbs-seeds
 
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Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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My ramps are growing under trees in the woods. Apparently they finish before the trees leaf-out. I'm not a big ramp fan, I froze 100 last year and still have 50 left, probably because I forget about them languishing in the bottom of the freezer. A local store has a 'Fresh Ramps' sign year round so I guess they can be refrigerated for 6 weeks after they finish and their cycle renewed, giving perhaps 3 growing seasons compressed into one year.
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Ruth, ramps need to be thought of as "spring onions" for success growing them.
Since they are a wild plant, treating the new plants as you would asparagus is a good idea, giving them time to establish and put off babies before you ever harvest any from your bed.
I plant them on the north slope, in the areas that get dappled sun all year long because they are shade loving plants.  
 
steward
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Location: West Tennessee
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My wife and I love ramps, they're hard to come by for purchase and we've only had them once or twice. I'm not sure if I already have ramps on my farm, but I really doubt it, so I bought some seeds. While I may not live in the mountains of Tennessee, I do live in the state and I have woods. Today I went out into the woods in several different places to sow the seeds. In some spots I scratched at the surface of the forest floor and placed some seeds into the top quarter inch of crumbly forest soil and covered them, some I placed on the surface of the soil and covered with leaf litter, and some I broadcast onto the leaf litter. I marked a few places with an orange landscape flag so I can keep an eye on them over the next few years. This is my first year on my new farm, and ramps are slow, kind of one of those "set it and forget it" things. According to the seed package, 1-2 years to germinate, and apparently they may take 5-7 years to maturity. There's a couple hundred seeds in the package, and hopefully with good germination and mindful harvesting, the ramps will spread and they'll be all over the place when I'm an old man.
Ramp-seed-packet.jpg
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Ramp-seeds.jpg
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gardener
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Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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Has anyone tried growing them in Western WA? I was thinking about adding some to one of my food forests next year. Not sure how they will do here...
 
pollinator
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We sold ramps for years.  Would dig them on another persons property and sell them to restaurants.  The chefs would cut off the the bottoms just above the roots and save them for us.  We would replant the root bottoms on our property in the shade and next year would have a plant all leafed out.  They seem to propogate at a rate of about 2-3 per one.  Season is short in NY.  Usually starts April 1 and may last for 5-6 weeks.  Ours never grew as large on our property.  Where we dug them was very rich soil and south facing.  Same plant but the leaves are 30% smaller.  

Originally we bought seeds but they never grew.
 
pollinator
Posts: 382
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Ed Waters wrote:We sold ramps for years.  Would dig them on another persons property and sell them to restaurants.  The chefs would cut off the the bottoms just above the roots and save them for us.  We would replant the root bottoms on our property in the shade and next year would have a plant all leafed out.  They seem to propogate at a rate of about 2-3 per one.  Season is short in NY.  Usually starts April 1 and may last for 5-6 weeks.  Ours never grew as large on our property.  Where we dug them was very rich soil and south facing.  Same plant but the leaves are 30% smaller.  

Originally we bought seeds but they never grew.



Ah. Anyone know a good source online to order ramps plants? What's the best time of year to be looking for them with replanting the roots in mind?
 
Ruth Meyers
pollinator
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A walk in the woods a few days ago assures me that I've got ramps.  I planted seeds on both sides of the seasonal water rill and then on the north side of some trees, since I understand they like shade and damp.  I also bought clumps of whole plants from venders on the side of the road.  Those don't appear to have flourished.  I sure am glad to have gotten those seeds before Mr. Facemire closed down for good.
 
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I was told by a neighbor that I have ramps growing wild on my property, what he called ramps are what I am calling wild garlic, still not 100 percent sure what it is but it smells looks and cooks like a cross between garlic and onion. is that what ramps are? they are growing real well right now but have not developed the seed pods yet.
anyone have pictures of wild ramps?
 
pollinator
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too scatterbrained to google you up a pic, but the wild garlic (presumably allium canadense, though theres a few other species that sometimes get called "wild garlic") is thin in it's leaves, and ramps have nice fat leaves =) and are...milder/ better tasting IMHO.
 
Ruth Meyers
pollinator
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Not what you'd expect from an allium.  Mine are just two leaves yet, not bunches.  They will flower later in the spring, but I don't recall how much later.  I remember I was told to plant the seeds in late summer.





Here are my starts:

2020-ramps.jpg
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pollinator
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Ruth Meyers wrote:Not what you'd expect from an allium.  Mine are just two leaves yet, not bunches.  



Each bulb only produces 2 to 3 leaves.  When you see clumps of leaves it is because of clumps of bulbs.  
 
pollinator
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Location: North Idaho
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leila hamaya wrote:too scatterbrained to google you up a pic, but the wild garlic (presumably allium canadense, though theres a few other species that sometimes get called "wild garlic") is thin in it's leaves, and ramps have nice fat leaves =) and are...milder/ better tasting IMHO.



Ramps are a natural growing "leek"...  

Daron Williams wrote:Has anyone tried growing them in Western WA? I was thinking about adding some to one of my food forests next year. Not sure how they will do here...



I would imagine they should grow in many parts of Western Washington, while they are crazy cold tolerant and can literally freeze solid and come back from it just fine apparently they are not able to handle "extreme" cold like -20F and whatnot such as we get here unless there is a good protective blanket of snow to insulate them from the cold.  I also have no doubt that there are some of areas of western Washington where these would not grow well.

I would imagine in the colder regions you could mulch them with yard leaves, forest needles or loose hay/straw in the late fall to help protect from extreme cold freezing events through out the winter whether there is snow cover to protect or not.  I am trying to get leeks going in my forests this year, might have to look into some of the wild ramps as well, that would be a cool addition to my forests.
 
Daron Williams
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Thanks for the comment Roy--at my place the ground really never freezes. Especially the areas under mulch. We just don't get very cold here. I grew up in eastern WA north of Spokane so to me the winters here near the Puget Sound always seem very mild.

But the winters are generally very wet and most of my soils are a mix of silt and clay. The soils can get very saturated here. I have dug holes down only 6 inches and watched water just flow into the hole from the sides and fill the hole up to almost ground level in no time at all. Made putting in a fence last winter a bit interesting!

I wasn't sure how well ramps would handle the wet winters and saturated soils. I have areas that have better soil and I'm working on improving other areas so perhaps I will try those spots first and see how they do.

There are also several native wild onions here but they don't spread like ramps do. I like the native ones and I have planted a ton of them but it's hard to get enough of them to actually get a harvest. I love the idea of getting ramps established in a food forest and having them spread enough to provide a large harvest each year.
 
Roy Long
pollinator
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You might consider raising the soil level where you plant a bit and use soil that drains well just to be sure.   In the forest settings that I have seen the ramps collected from (albeit youtube video) the forest soils tend to be well draining and "not" wet.  If you added in 10 or 12 inches of well draining soil just under the edge of a tree or other cover to keep it out of direct heavy rain "try to recreate the idea of naturally growing in a forest" and I imagine you should do alright.  

These grow in Britain as well and they also have a very wet climate, though they use the term "wild garlic", "wood leek" or "wild leek" rather than "ramp".
 
Daron Williams
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Roy Long wrote:You might consider raising the soil level where you plant a bit and use soil that drains well just to be sure.   In the forest settings that I have seen the ramps collected from (albeit youtube video) the forest soils tend to be well draining and "not" wet.  If you added in 10 or 12 inches of well draining soil just under the edge of a tree or other cover to keep it out of direct heavy rain "try to recreate the idea of naturally growing in a forest" and I imagine you should do alright.  

These grow in Britain as well and they also have a very wet climate, though they use the term "wild garlic", "wood leek" or "wild leek" rather than "ramp".



Yeah, the area I'm thinking about starting them is a hugelkultur bed that is raised and has some good shade from the shrubs and trees already growing there. That area is much more well drained than most of my land. I also have some other areas that would be good but there isn't enough shade yet for ramps. But I got fruit trees and berries growing there so in a few years those spots will be shady enough for ramps. Might just end up trying a few areas and see which spots the ramps like and which they don't.
 
David Huang
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For what it's worth, in the wild I only find them abundant in mature forests, generally of maple and beech trees.  What seems most important is the mature, old growth part.  None the less I'm trying to grow some here on my less than mature property.  I'm not sure what it is about the mature forests that make them ideal, if they have altered soil fertility, or if it's just the lack of significant "weed" pressure under the dense canopy most of the year.  Perhaps it's something else all together.
 
Ruth Meyers
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David Huang wrote:For what it's worth, in the wild I only find them abundant in mature forests, generally of maple and beech trees.  What seems most important is the mature, old growth part.  None the less I'm trying to grow some here on my less than mature property.  I'm not sure what it is about the mature forests that make them ideal, if they have altered soil fertility, or if it's just the lack of significant "weed" pressure under the dense canopy most of the year.  Perhaps it's something else all together.



That's interesting.  My property was timbered perhaps 40 years ago.  It has a couple of ancients - a shagbark hickory grove and a maple at a corner; but it's mostly tulip poplar, eastern redcedar and honeylocust, with a generous helping of sassafras, redbud and staghorn sumac, and a whole section of non-productive paw-paws.  I've been battling the dominant understory plant - poison ivy, and paying attention to saplings.  For the past two years, I see maple, buckeye and even beech establishing.  Yay!  Further downslope, beyond my border, are the ancients; preserved by the steepness of the slope.
 
pollinator
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I’m in West Virginia and while doing a trek of our mostly oak forest I found a small patch of ramps growing in a northeastern ravine.  These woods were select-harvest timbered a little over thirty years ago and this is the only patch I found on approximately nine acres of forest. At first I planned to harvest three or four plants but then decided to leave them alone in hopes that the patch would grow larger next year.
 
pollinator
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Ruth I lived in Ashland KY and I used to go to the wild ramp market in Huntington wv. I tried and tried to cultivate them in the woods behind my house in Ashland. I had limited success but I found that planting seed under leaf litter near the base of large trees worked best.

I am in Lexington now and most people don't know what I am talking about when I ask for ramps.

Hopefully I'll visit  home soon. Polk Co Tennessee We have an annual "ramp tramp" there and people sell them for transplants.
 
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In my area (CT and neighboring NY) they are an at risk plant. IMHO they should never be dug up root and all from any wild place. I have a small patch on my property that was a rescue from a patch that was heartbreakingly being bulldozed. But in the wild I only harvest one leaf from a few plants in every patch- it should look like no one was every there. I have sewn seeds without any luck.
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