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How to Plant Ramps

By Alice Moon ; Updated September 21, 2017

Ramps are wild leeks, sometimes called wild onions, with a flavor and scent that is a mix of onion and garlic. Ramps prefer to live in deciduous forests and experience most of their growth in spring, with the leaves dying back and a flower stalk appearing in summer. Ramps are celebrated for being one of the first foods to arrive each spring, providing a fresh green vegetable after winter.

Preparation

Look for an area with tree cover. Ramps naturally occur under poplar, birch and beech, as these trees offer the soil conditions that favor growth--soil that remains moist most of the year and contains a high percentage of organic matter.

Clear a shady area of leaf cover and competing weeds. The presence of other shade-loving forest plants is a favorable sign that ramps will flourish.

Dig wild bulbs in spring to transplant, or purchase bulbs. Plant bulbs 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep. Space rows of bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart. Leave the tip of the bulb visible, at the same level as the surrounding soil.

Harvest wild plants and bring them home to prepared areas to transplant. Plant at the same depth at which you found the plants.

Seed Propagation

Collect seeds in the late summer or early fall. Store them away from light and heat for later planting.

Plant seeds in your prepared area in rows 3 inches apart, or scatter seed directly on top of the soil. Cover by patting the seeds into the soil. Water the soil until it is moist but not saturated.

Protect newly planted seeds by covering them with several inches of leaf litter or compost.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Small shovel
  • Rake

Tips

  • Avoid extensive digging and tilling. Ramps are wild plants and will adapt without deep turning of the soil or extensive preparation.
  • Use leaf mulch whenever possible, up to several inches deep, to cover seeds and plants. The leaves are optimum for feeding the soil. Gypsum is a suitable alternative to leaf litter and calcium is an acceptable soil addition, with ramps preferring a soil pH of 4.9.
  • Expect new plants a year and a half from the time of planting. They may germinate more quickly, but this requires a cycle of heat and cold before the seeds respond with growth. It may take five to seven years to get food from seed plantings.