It Takes A Pillage

This is a shot of my little ramp patch. (Likers of the blog on Facebook already knew that; just saying). I planted these about four years ago, near the stream, under some trees. They have taken hold quite well, and are beginning to spread. It’s hard to resist pulling them up, but I do, so they will continue to multiply. What I do instead is to cut one leaf off, leaving the rest. Thus do I get to have my ramps and eat them too.

*Edit* It’s worth mentioning that they like to be under deciduous trees, not conifers, and thus be mulched naturally with leaves. Full sun is not advised. They evolved to thrive on forest floors, near water, so do your best to provide them with that sort of environment. The North side of your house, mulched with whatever you rake off your lawn, can work. I tried a few spots and this was the clear winner.

While the rest of the world goes bananas for them, remember that growing your own is the only sure way to protect wild populations from the depredations of both amateur and professional foragers. Ramps spread slowly, and can take years to recover from overeager harvesting. If everyone eats wild ramps, they’ll disappear. Cultivating your own patch(es) is the way to go. They transplant well, especially earlier in the season, so when I do forage them I always set aside a meaningful percentage to stick in the ground. Over time this should wean me off of foraging. Bulbs can also be ordered from here, the only commercial ramp farm that I know of in the country, though the season has passed and you’ll need to wait until February to order.

5 comments to It Takes A Pillage

  • I had these in my back yard in New York state, free for the plucking. They were well established and we never ate too many, so we had them all the years we lived in that house.

  • We have a big, wild patch near our WI property that I have been pillaging for years, and the patches grow larger every year. I wasn’t aware that I could transfer some to our own property and therefore have my own personal stash. Thanks for this!

  • Roscoe

    I always see ramps seemingly associated with Appalachia and the Eastern seaboard. How well do they grow elsewhere? Say, the Ozarks in NW Arkansas?

    • Peter

      I’m sure they do, but the season is long over down there. Start looking in early February would be my guess. The ramp farm is in West Virginia.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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