Who Wants Ramp Bulbs?

Greetings and Happy New Year once again to all of my fellow ramps connoisseurs.

I hope that the past year was good to you and I hope that 2015 is an even better year for you.

I have a question I would like to ask you today.

(PSSST… We’ve got a facebook page now. Give us a like. See it over there on the right? ———>)

Would you be interested in purchasing ramp bulbs before the official ramp season is underway? 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.)

Of course the ramp bulbs would be shipped complete with roots for transplanting, and would look very similar to this:

west virginia ramp bulbs

The bulbs are small because they shrink during the winter months, but quickly swell again as the sunlight warms the ground and the green leaves make their way to the sky.

So before I go out into the cold and begin harvesting bulbs, I would like to know if there is any interest in them. If you think you would like some, please leave me a comment in the space provided below. This in no way commits you to buying them if I sell them, but it gives me an idea as to whether or not it would be a worthwhile endeavor on my part.

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.

The Appalachian Delicacy

This is the last week to buy ramps from me. The last shipment of fresh ramps for the year will be going out on 5/5.  We are lucky we got as many weeks in as we did this year. It turned out to be the longest season we’ve had in a couple of years. So, if you want more ramps, order them now.  Also, the ramp seasoning was a hit. I knew that our supply would sell out, but I didn’t realize it would sell out in less than 12 hours. We are currently in the process of making more, and I hope to have it ready by this weekend. Keep checking the ramp seasoning page for an update of when it is back in stock. Or, sign up for the mailing list over on the right and I will send everyone an email when it is ready.

One more thing. A young lady asked me if she could write a few words about her and her friends ramp digging, and put it here. I have no problem with that and I didn’t figure you guys would either. Enjoy her story!

Everybody talks about the pungent odor of ramps, but digging the Appalachian delicacy produces a different set of concerns: My legs are tired. My back is hurting. I am hungry. My nose is running. And my burlap bag is filling very, very slowly. I have come to this hillside with a group of friends who had eaten ramps at a neighbor’s house and wanted to try to dig them up and make them themselves.

I had gone before and wanted to help them out. I led them across a rocky slope and into the fog where the hillside is covered by long, green leaves. Those are the ramps. They almost look like thick hair there are so many. The hillside is steep and chilly and damp. It is a hike to get up to where the ramps actually are and we are all slightly winded by the time we make it up to our spot.

Some people think it’s easy to dig up a wild ramp but it is not! You are bent over and crouched, whacking away at them. My friends have never done this before and didn’t quite know what to expect. Luckily I thought to remind them to dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes. My friend Marie is winded before we are even halfway up the slope.

When we finally get to where the most ramps are, they are all amazed by how many there are. I let them start digging and go around and give them tips to make it easier on them. Our goal is to fill one sack each because if we trudged all the way up here then we wanted to make sure it was worth it. At the beginning we were joking and laughing about the task in front of us but now that the work is under way we’ve gotten a little quieter. Oh of course we still laugh when Laurel falls on her butt in the mud with a ramp in her hand. She laughs with us and I realize that doing this with friends makes it way more fun!

As we each fill our own sack we help each other with the rest of them, trying to spread out the work. By the time they’re all filled we have all fallen in the mud at least once (or 4 times in Kari’s case!), we’re soaked through our clothes and really, really hungry. And we still had to get these bags back down the hill! Marie tried rolling hers. I just sat back and let her try even though I knew that didn’t work. After her ramps started to fall out she caught the bag and looked at me for directions. I slung the bag over my shoulder and started walking down the hill.

The girls all followed me, one even started whistling “Hi ho hi ho” from Snow White. By the time we got to the bottom we were muddier still! We washed off our hands in the creek and piled the bags (and ourselves) into our cars. We definitely deserved a nice hot lunch at the local diner after this trip!

Appalachian Delicacy

Ramps In West Virginia

Spring for some is a crocus peeking through the snow or the sighting of a robin after a long hard winter, while others insist that it is the burst of purple that flowers on the Eastern Redbud tree. But for many natives, the harvest of ramps in West Virginia and the subsequent onslaught of ramp celebrations, festivals, and dinners is the only sure sign that spring has sprung.

Allium tricoccum, wild leek, wild onion, spring tonic, or most commonly, the ramp is a wild plant that grows in the mountains of Appalachia. It resembles a scallion and tastes like a cross between an onion and garlic. More often than not, they are charged with having an offensively pungent smell. “In early April, step out on your porch and point your nose in this direction, and you just might smell them, ” jokes Helvetia resident Betty Biggs.

Continue reading “Ramps In West Virginia”

Wild Ramps – A Brief Introduction

Before I get started here, I would like to welcome you. I am Bucky from bloggingwv.com. I started out selling Wild Ramps over there a few years ago, with much success. I have recently felt the need to start a new website with a more professional look, that is fully dedicated to nothing but ramps, including recipes. I assure you that you will receive the same quality service that you are accustomed to receiving from me even though my look is a little different this year. So once again, welcome to the new place.

I figured I would start out my new place with some interesting facts about Wild Ramps. Hey, I have to have something to do while I wait for them to grow!

Wild Ramps Characteristics

Allium tricoccum (commonly known as ramps or wild leeks) is an early spring vegetable, a perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor and a pronounced onion flavor. Wild Ramps are found across eastern North America, from the U.S. state of South Carolina to Canada. They are popular in the cuisines of the rural uplands of the American South, and also in the Canadian province of Quebec. Wild Ramps also have a growing popularity in upscale restaurants throughout North America. A lot of high profile Chefs charge high prices for small portions of this amazing Ramps vegetable.

The ramp has broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. The locals prefer the bulbs much more than the leaves. In fact, a lot of folks will discard the leaves once they get large and use only the bulbs. The flower stalk only appears after the leaves have died back. After the flower dies off, there is a seed pod remaining that contains 10 to 15 seeds. Wild Ramps grow in groups strongly rooted just beneath the surface of the soil.

In Canada, ramps are considered rare delicacies. Since the growth of Wild Ramps is not as widespread as in Appalachia and because of destructive human practices, ramps are a threatened species in Quebec. Allium tricoccum is a protected species under Quebec legislation. A person may have Wild Ramps in his or her possession outside the plant’s natural environment, or may harvest it for the purposes of personal consumption in an annual quantity not exceeding 200 grams of any of its parts or a maximum of 50 bulbs or 50 plants, provided those activities do not take place in a park within the meaning of the National Parks Act. The protected status also prohibits any commercial transactions of Wild Ramps; this prevents restaurants from serving Wild Ramps as is done in the United States. Failure to comply with these laws is punishable by a fine. However, the law does not always stop poachers, who find a ready market across the border in Ontario (especially in the Ottawa area), where Wild Ramps may be legally harvested and sold.

The last paragraph is hard to grasp for me since I was born and raised in West Virginia. Maybe Wild Ramps just grow exceptionally well in the area in which I live because no matter which way I turn in the woods there are Wild Ramps. I can’t fathom a world right now without Wild Ramps in it. That would be a sad world….sad indeed.

Wild Ramps