Sunday, March 18, 2007

Time of the year for Ramps (wild leeks) again.

I just placed my order for Ramps or wild leeks Allium triccocum from the Ramp farm. I read a blog a few weeks ago that Ontario Canada had banned the collection of ramps in the wild because of overharvesting. At least that's my recollection of the article. Ramps in the U.S. are also becoming endangered because of overharvesting and Smoky Mountain National park has banned the harvesting of ramps. I don't know if the Ramp Farm cultivates ramps instead of collecting from the wild but I hope so and that's the impression I got from the website.

My curiosity was piqued last year by a NY Times article on ramps. I almost missed the season and sent in my check for a pound of ramps just in time in the last week of April. A pound of ramps arrived and we immediately ate 3/4 of it, keeping 1/4 of the smaller plants with roots so I could plant them. Some of the planted ramps actually grew and one even flowered. I took a peek earlier last week and I can see about 3 plants poking through the ground. At least I hope that's what they are and not some other kind of bulb we've managed to plant all around the yard.

The ramps were absolutely delicious. We just cleaned the leeks, removed the roots, cut them in 2-3" pieces, leaves and all and sauteed them in butter. I haven't tasted anything better in the onion family. If you are a meat eater the addition of bacon would be a great complement. A leek and potato soup would probably be better using ramps instead of the cultivated leek Allium porrum.

So I placed my order early this year. Bought a pound of ramps, some seeds and an order of bulbs. We'll eat the ramps now, plant the bulbs for ramps next year and the seeds for two years hence. That's the plan anyway to have a unique and tasty plant to eat without having them go extinct. The only troublesome thing is that they like a woodland setting and filtered light so I'll have to find a shady, moist place in the yard. Maybe I can sneak them in the overgrown area of the nearby park, way back in the brambles.

I had to dig up my old photo from last year as my order has not arrived yet. And the picture of the ramp flower is from my planting last fall. The leaves around the ramp flower are of the wild ginger Asarum canadense and are not ramp leaves.

Here's a great site for the cultivation of ramps from Purdue University.


Blogger Gotta Garden said...

Thank you, Ki, for the link! I am so excited! Several years ago, I read a great article about ramps, but I had no idea where to get I do! Yea!

I can't wait to try them!

2:43 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

You're most welcome Gotta Garden. Let me know how you like them.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

I've been trying to grow giant leaks for the past 3 years with no success. I may have to ask you for some tips when I plant this year. Or maybe I should try ramps.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Anthony,
I sort of remember planting leeks from seed many, many, years ago but I can't remember how they turned out. I think they were ok but much smaller than the ones you see in the grocery store and these were planted in the fertile Iowa black loam. I don't know how they get the grocery store kind to grow so large. Sorry I couldn't help.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So where can I order some bulbs to plant? I used to eat these in WVa when I was a kid - went to the festivals, etc., and when we wanted to close the schoolhouse for a couple of days, we sneaked in and put them on the radiators.

Thank you.

2:57 PM  

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