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Ramp bulbs are easy to plant and a great way to get a head start on growing your own bumper crop, or just growing some so you will be able to pluck them fresh out of the ground, flower pot, or unique raised bed ramp garden that you create. (I’ve seen some really nice raised bed gardens that are just begging to have a few dozen ramps planted in them.)
How should I plant and grow these ramp bulbs?
For best growing results mimic how and where the ramps grow in the wild. In the wild Ramps grow in shaded areas (usually under trees) with an abundance of moisture and soil rich in organic matter. Look carefully around your gardening area for a tree that will provide a moist soil with lots of shade. Organic matter such as leaves should be abundantly added. Ramps grow naturally under a forest canopy of beech, birch, sugar maple, and/or poplar. Other forest trees under which ramps will grow include buckeye, linden (basswood), hickory, and oak. A forested area with any of these trees present provides an ideal location for planting a ramp crop. Areas that host trillium, tooth wort, nettle, black cohos, ginseng, bloodroot, trout lily, bell wort, and may apple should be suitable for growing ramps. If there is not a wooded area available to grow ramps, a shade structure can be erected over the planting site.
Hardwood leaves provide the best mulch for ramps. Poor results have been obtained with pine bark and commercial mulches and they should be avoided. The effects of mulching are numerous: decaying organic matter provides essential elements like nitrogen, much needed moisture is retained within the mulched area, and the mulch acts as an insulator to protect the plants in sub-zero temperatures. In addition, mulching helps to suppress weeds as well as protect newly sown seeds, seedlings, and ramp bulbs from wildlife.
I would rather plant my ramp bulbs in the woods.
That’s a great idea also! To plant under a forested canopy, rake back the leaves on the forest floor, removing any unwanted weeds, tree sprouts, or roots. If the soil is not naturally high in organic matter, incorporate organic materials such as composted leaves and other decaying plant material from the forest. Loosen the soil and rake to prepare a fine bed. Sow bulbs about 1/2 to 1 inch a part pressing them gently into the soil. Cover bulbs with several inches of leaves to retain moisture in the soil and to protect the bulbs from the wildlife. When using artificial shade, ensure that you till plenty of organic matter into the soil prior to sowing your bulbs.