Freshly Harvested Ramps
Ramps, or wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), were once relegated to growing in the wild, but this springtime vegetable is being grown in more and more vegetable gardens. They have a flavor that blends Spring onions and garlic. Ramps are delicious eaten on their own, pickled, or they can be used to flavor other dishes. The leaves, stems and bulbs can be blanched, fried or chopped and mixed into dishes.
Ramps are a native plant found growing in moist woodlands of the Appalachian Mountain range, in eastern North America. Our Ramp Patch at Sleepy Cat Farm is on a shaded hillside, which actually is quite dry. This is likely why they don’t spread so quickly.
Ramps appear in early spring and many areas still celebrate their arrival as the first cooking green of the season.
Ramps grow from a small bulb to a large spread, and colonize a larger area over time. The leaves emerge in early Spring, but the plants are ephemeral, disappearing within a month or two and remaining dormant until the following Spring.
When growing ramps, you can either purchase seed (there are many sources online), then stratify it by mixing it with damp soil and refrigerating it for 2 months. The ideal time do this is during the Winter months to simulate natural conditions. After this period, sow the seeds like any other vegetable, either in pots or in your dedicated ramp patch. Remember that after flowering, Ramps will go dormant beneath the ground. You can dig some and give them to friends, or start a new patch.
When digging ramps from your own property, use a trowel to loosen the soil around the bulb first, and gently lift the plants out. They can easily be transplanted to another patch, which should be done on a cloudy day to avoid stress on the plants during recovery.
Ramps are a wonderful addition to Pizza; Try this recipe from The Smitten Kitchen.
A local restaurant, The Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, had an entire dinner menu last year based on ramps.
Sleepy Cat Farm will have Ramp seeds for sale this year at our Fall Open Day on September 16, 2018.