Growing Ramps (Wild Leeks)

breezyb(z6/7VA)April 9, 2005

I would LOVE to try growing some Ramps on my property - have plenty of possible sites what with 21 acres of mixed habitat.

In a couple of weeks they will start trickling into our local farmers & gourment markets, & trust me - they get a pretty penny for just a small bunch.

Since I've never seen seed or plants offered from regular onion suppliers, & since the grocers sell the Ramps whole like scallions, what are the chances that I could buy some from the market & stick them in ground as if I was planting an onion plant?

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Ramps grow wild in my area..I'm pretty sure they do in yours also..The point is I've pulled up ones I've found in the wild and transplanted with no problem..If the ones you can get have not be processed(tops trimmed and roots cut off) You should have no problem..
If you live near the mountains..Take a trip , they're almost at thier peak..pull some wild ones..

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 11:16AM
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Thanks! I do live close to the mountains - just about a half hour or so away from the Shenandoah National Park system.

I know that the Ramps I see in the markets are local, but of course considering the price they're getting for them, no one is willing to disclose their source. Same for Morel mushrooms.

I know that when I bought them last year the tops were completely untrimmed - full, fresh, & bright green - but I don't remember if or how much the roots had been trimmed. Will have to see.

I am guessing that Ramps are woodland-type plants that prefer shade?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 11:57AM
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qbirdy(z4/5 Central NY)

We just pulled a few wild leeks this afternoon, they aren't ready yet here, but still good. If you go to get some bring a spade or shovel, they seem to like the mostly open places in our woods. Partial shade, thick leaf cover.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 10:43PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

The annual ramp festivals are just getting under way. I'll bet if you called some of these folks up (or talked to the people who sell them at the local farmers' markets) and asked them to dig you a few dozen with roots and soil still attached, they'd be happy to sell them to you.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 9:35PM
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Thanks so much for the link!!!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 9:03AM
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Well, local market just e-mailed me that they are expecting Ramps this weekend, but to call first. Yippee!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 6:12PM
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Okay - I was gifted this weekend with a bunch of Ramps from the local gourmet produce emporium. They have full bright green tops & full sets of roots. It looks like all that was done was that they had the soil rinsed off of them.

So - any thoughts on how to plant? While I imagine they like a shady/woodland/peat/leaf mold/humous kind of habitat(??), I'm also wondering how deep to plant them. Bulb only? Stem to up to where the white part ends & the red part begins?

Thanks in advance for any further advice.

Oh, & by the way, these Ramps cost $15.99 PER POUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 9:57AM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

I've never transplanted them singly, rather transplanting an entire clump when we were disturbing their habitat. Mostly I've harvested from the local woods.

No white shows, but they grow up through last year's leaves, so the depth is a little iffy. The soil where they grow is generally forest floor rich and friable. Not only is that what they like, but it makes it easier to ease them out of the ground. Low pH.

They grow in woodland, but they grow in early spring, before the forest canopy fully develops, so they don't actually seem to grow in real shade. They die back in the shade as summer advances. The wild-growing ramps don't seem to do well in open sun, fields, etc.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 12:41PM
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jimster(z7a MA)


I'm glad to hear of your good luck obtaining the plants. This will be a fun project.

You are exactly right about habitat. I planted mine singly, scattered about with hopes they would colonize the area. I think burying the white part is the correct way to plant them.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 2:05PM
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I have a good-sized bunch - enough to eat + enough to plant. (And at the price of $15.99 per pound - that BETTER be enough - lol!)

I'm thinking of putting a few in one or two of the wooded islands closest to the house so I can mark them & keep an eye on them. Then will stick a few in a newly set up shaded perennial bed just for the heck of it.

GrassisEvil - thanks for letting me know that they naturally die back as summer commences. I would have thought they were dying - lol!!!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 2:59PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)


With them so close, you'll probably see the flower stalk to collect the seeds. Lots cheaper than buying the plants. Or, if you just leave them alone, they'll self-sow and expand on their own.

Good luck with the project.


BTW, you do know that eating ramps will give you a distinctive body odor? If you're selling to restaurants or shops, that isn't your problem, but it might be something to remember if you're selling from a stall.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 4:59PM
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Thanks for the heads up Ray. As it is, I'm just planning on growing them for myself right now. And since my husband despises everything in the onion family except for garlic & sometimes a few shallots I can sneak into food, I'll be the only one eating them.

So hubby will just have to "deal with it" when Ramps are in season - lol!!!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 5:11PM
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coho(z8/9 N. Calif)

Allium tricoccum

One source is Seedman Jim Johnson, 3421 Bream St., Gautier, Miss. 39553. A packet of seeds (No. NP550) is $3.50 and can be ordered by calling (800) 336-2064 or on the Internet at

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 8:29PM
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coho(z8/9 N. Calif)

Here is a wealth of information on ramps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ramps

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 8:46PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Did everyone see the other ramp thread? It has to do with the 'fragrance' of ramps.


Here is a link that might be useful: Other Ramp Thread

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 9:24PM
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Wow - thanks for the links guys!!! I just did searches using "Ramps" & pretty much just got culinary info - which was fine with me for the most part. Never ventured into more botanical info because apparently there seem to be so many variations of the same thing.

Thanks so much for the botanical "heads up"!!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 10:26PM
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You all must be over in the mountains. I'm over just west of the Cumberland Plateau, and I've nver seen ramps here. I know what they look like because we picked and ate the leaves on sandwiches in Ireland. My Irish husband knew about them, apparently they are naturalized there. Do you think they would grow where we are now? I bought seeds once, but no luck.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 11:11PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

I think that ramps only grow where they want to grow, not where we want them to grow! For years, I never even heard of them. Then saw them in a few books but never in the forests. About this time in 1989, I spent a weekend with a friend in NW Wisconsin. She told me about the wild leeks which were growing in her aspen woods. I'll be darned if they weren't exactly the same things which had been trying to fight off bracken ferns in my wildflower garden since the late 1960s! Even after all these years, there's still barely 15-20 plants struggling. I'm not even going to try to transplant them! The only two places where I've found them in the wild have been damp woods with virtually no other vegetation around them. Like ginseng and morel mushrooms, it's almost impossible to duplicate natural conditions for ramps. That's why they are so popular.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 1:35AM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

I've never heard of them that far west in Tennessee, Donna. They're pretty much a mountain phenomenon in the South as far as I'm aware, but whether that's because they tend to grow here or because we tend to eat them here, I don't know.

Like I said, I've never tried to transplant them individually or sow them from seed. I've only moved a clump, scooping them and the soil they were planted in up in en masse and planting them where their brothers were already growing.

This weekend is the local ramp festival and right now it's pouring rain. I hope it's going to clear up for tomorrow.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 6:13AM
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Donna, I transplanted ramps both ways..The first time like Ray. Since then I retrived more growing wild and transplanted them singularly..They both have done well..They return each spring...more and more..Some by mutiplying some by reseeding..
I not sure if I agree on planting site..Mine are in full sun and do well...Some shade probable might be O.K.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 8:30AM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

I live near Danville VA just over the Nc line . We have lots of woods shade & sun and a creek. We are not excactly in the mts But on the edge of the foothills . I was wondering if we could grow ramps . Anyone that far east or south tried them?
The Garlic Lady

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 8:08AM
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I live in Virginia and Brother in Law just brought us a bunch of wild ramps last night. My hubby took a few and planted them on our wooded lot where they can get the sun during the Fall and Winter season. Not sure if they will grow, but we find them in the mountains this time of year and they are always found on the east side of the mountain under lots of trees where they would received them morning sun when the leaves have fallen. I would be interested to know if anyone has any luck and I will also post as to whether or not we did :-). I have used them in spaghetti sauce and other things that call for onions and love them.
My MIL told me to wash them well and chop up the bulbs along with the leaves, put them in a frying pan with a "hunk" of butter and cover with water...let them cook until the water is gone, then add 3 eggs and mix this up, cook until eggs are done. I cooked them this morning and they were well received by my hubby...I thought they were pretty good too :-). How about some other ways to use them? Thanks and Blessed day to all.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 12:40PM
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I made this last night & it was DELICIOUS!!! Had it again for lunch today (& since hubby doesn't care for onions - will probably be having it for lunch for the next couple of days - lol!!!). This is my own adaptation of a recipe originally put out by Emeril Lagasse. It's so easy & so good it's almost criminal!

1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 pound of Ramps, cleaned, roots trimmed off, & cut into 2" pieces
2 dry bay leaves
3 tablespoons of roughly chopped garlic (approximately 6 medium to large cloves)
8 cups of chicken broth
1-1/2 to 2 pounds of baby white potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size - or regular size new potatoes, quartered
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Heavy cream

Melt the butter in a 6-8-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the Ramps. Season lightly with ground pepper. Saute until the Ramps are wilted and soft, about 6 nminutes. Add the bay leaves & garlic, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the stock & the potatoes & bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium & simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are very soft & the mixture begins to thicken - about 1 hour-1 hour & 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat & remove bay leaves. Mash soup mixture lightly with a potato masher. Taste for seasoning - add salt if necessary, although I like to allow folks to add their own salt according to taste. Ladle into bowls & add a goodly dollop of heavy cream to each bowl, stir, & serve.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 7:15PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

Something a little more down home. (The ramp, fiddlehead fern, and morel salad will have to wait for another time.)

Fry a pound of bacon in a roomy iron skillet. I think the bacon enhances the ramp taste. :) When bacon is crispy, remove from the skillet and set aside to drain. (If you're one of those healthy people, forget the bacon. You'll need about 1/4 cup of cooking oil, heated.)

Slice four or five medium-sized potatoes or their equivalent. I like to use new potatoes, scrubbed but with skins left on, and sliced crosswise, but any will do. Pat them dry; if water hits the hot oil, it will splatter. Drop sliced potatoes into the hot skillet. Fry for three minutes or so. Add 1 1/2 pounds of cleaned ramp bulbs, sliced lengthwise. Some people use the blades, I prefer to only use the bulbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue frying until the potatoes are done and the ramps turn translucent. Crumble the bacon on top, cover, remove from the heat, and let the tastes mingle for a couple of minutes before serving.

If you want, when the ramps are done, beat a half-dozen eggs and scramble into the potatoes and onions. When the eggs are done, the dish is done. Add bacon and cover as before.

If your cholesterol hasn't gone through the roof, when the eggs are done, sprinkle grated cheese of your choice--Cheddar does well--on top. Add bacon and cover as before.

Serve with cornbread and white soup beans. For whatever reason, we never had brown soup beans. Sauerkraut might also tickle your palate. We sometimes had fried mountain trout or other panfish. We never served beef, for whatever reason. Some people serve smoked, grilled chicken, but we only had pork or fish.

You can also fry a pound of sausage, crumbling it up as you do so. Drain. Slice eight to ten medium potatoes and chop a pound to a pound and a half of ramps. Layer the sliced potatoes, than ramps, then sausage in a large baking dish. You can add extra layers as you have ingredients. Or you can chop the potatoes and mix the potatoes, ramps, and sausage together and pour into the dish. In a bowl, beat four eggs and two cups of milk. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the dish. Sprinkle two cups of grated Cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until potatoes are done.

Ray (who enjoyed last weekend's ramp festival where others did the cooking)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 9:36PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

Garlic Lady, you may be out of the range. Do you have actual hills? I think ramps may need cooler nights than the flatlands might provide because even here they grow on the hillside rather than in the level land of the valleys. This could simply be because we've destroyed the plants on the level land and the only place where they've been allowed to grow has been on the uncultivated hills. I checked out the local patch. Open mature hardwood forests, not evergreens, mostly beech, maple, etc., lots of organic matter, growing through last year's and many years before leaves. I think drainage might also be a key factor but I'm not even going to guess at that.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 1:04AM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

We have BIG Hills, our land drops off dowm a gully and goes down to a creek. Lots of running cedar , wild ferns etc grow on the wooded hill side. Not much flat land around here. We are just south of VA line between Martinsville and Danville.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 11:15AM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

Garlic Lady, then I would think you could grow them--but that's just a feeling. I looked at the map, but it's hard to tell how the hills fall to any precision where you are. On the Smoky Mountain side of us, there are the main range mountains and then smaller mountains and then foothills, gradually working their way to the flatlands. On the northern side, there is the backbone Clinch Mountains--and then it's flat. Foothills just aren't a part of it.

At last week's ramp festival, two ounces of whole ramps, washed but not cleaned, sold for $3. One of the guys there, though, said that outside of the festival, ramps sell wholesale for $1.50 to $2.00 a pound. That's some mark-up to breezy's $15.99. But then, outside of the ramp festivals, there doesn't seem to be much of a market around here, so it may be that price is not typical. None of my customers are particularly interested in buying.

Articles in the local papers and on television are saying that the state/federal governments plan to begin charging $.50 a pound for anyone harvesting ramps on public lands. Now might be a good time to start a private patch, particularly with celebrity chefs leading the new popularity wave.

Wow. Imagine us--on the cutting edge of the ramp revolution! :)


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 6:35PM
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Yup - my local market still has them for $15.99 per pound.

"Earthy Delights" - the online gourmet food market, has them for $9.50 per pound, but since they're perishable, there's a $24.50 shipping charge.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 6:40PM
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"Open mature hardwood forests, not evergreens, mostly beech, maple, etc., lots of organic matter, growing through last year's and many years before leaves."

Yes, I think we could provide this, over on the 10 acres that haven't been logged in 25 yrs, and where a wet weather stream stays cool and dampish much of the summer. (We have a year round stream too, but that area was logged about 15 yrs ago) Also we have ginseng and morels, so I think our microclimate might do. Burgess Falls in Putnam co has one of the southernmost stands of hemlock, we are about 10 miles south of there, and to our surprise, found a 6 ft hemlock growing on the property over on those 10 acres. Believe me, no one planted it.
So that means the hardest part could be just getting the stock, right? Will there be any leaves left showing by June 24th? My son is coming to visit, and we might go up into the Smokies. We'd have to find a place to dig outside the park though. Would any nursery sell them? Donna

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 6:45PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

Donna, As to the wild stock, there are ramp festivals until the end of May in the North Carolina mountains. I would think around Cherokee, Bryson City, Waynesville there would still be patches showing in June. The seed stalks should be showing in the lower elevations and even if the leaves are gone, you can still get a whiff of ramps if you disturb the leaves around them now.

I've only heard of one nursery, one in West Virginia, that carries the plants and they're through for the season. I don't think I would buy them if I had to have them shipped, even overnight. They give a real meaning to perishable in my experience. If you go into the Smokies, check out the roadside stands though; I'll bet there are people who know where the ramp patches are even if you can't see them.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:59PM
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byrdzeye(z5 OH)

Speaking of the Smokies, recently in the news...
old news...
and suggested reading...

Small but unharvestable patches of ramps are really quite common and can be found in places you would never expect. Heres some growing at the end of my drive, I live about 10 miles from Columbus...
and the trees they are growing under, not really a wooded area, barely any leaf litter, and high pH...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 12:13PM
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Pressingham(C. VA)

I've done a fair amount of research on ramps but haven't tried growing them yet. The most knowledgable source I encountered was a man named Glen Facemire in Richwood, WV who runs . This is likely the only commercial ramp farm in the world. He sells fresh ramps, starts, and seed for anybody interested. Also, from an above post, you can trust that the ramps shipped fresh from him and his wife arrive in good condition for about $10 a pound which includes shipping. They really need to be prepared soon though but an iced cooler works for a few days (3-4 max).
His theory is that seed is the best way to plant ramps.They
don't spread by the roots but only by the seed fruit. The ramps must have a good winter freeze but seed still takes a couple years to germinate... it's a very hard seed.
He says most people who get a bundle of unwashed ramps and transplant are really just getting baby seed sprouts tangled up in the dirt and roots that often makes people believe the transplant was a success. He does have ramp bulb sets in season (March through April)./ We visited his "farm" which is situated ideally on a steep northern facing hillside. It isn't really a "farm" in any sense... he just scatters collected seed just into the leaf duff and waits 7 years before harvest until after they flower and make hearty seed
to replenish the patch. They're really a treat.. but not for everybody! There is also a PBS documentary on ramp festivals called "King of Stink" that is pretty funny and his ramp farm is one of the features in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ramp Farm & Supply Source

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 8:50PM
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Thanks so much for that TERRIFIC site. I ended up eating all of my Ramps after all. Decided that, considering I paid a pretty penny for them, didn't want to take a chance on them just withering & dieing in my woodland bed. There's always next year - lol!!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 11:13PM
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I was wondering if anyone would know if ramps could grow in the Southern Calif. climate?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 9:34PM
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I have a fascination with garlic and onions. I live in Hawaii, do any of you think that I could get a hold of ramps and grow them here?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 5:08AM
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decolady01(7a/6b AL/TN)

Ramps are native to the eastern North American mountains. They can be found growing in rich, moist, deciduous forests and bottomland from Canada down to Tennessee. My understanding is they need a good freeze in the winter. Would your climates in southern California and Hawaii provide that?


    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 8:40PM
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i have found growing ramps to be fairly easy. moist but not wet woodland duff and no pines close by. i like ares where i see wild ferns in abundance. i transplant plants in the spring, if i can keep some dirt on the bulbs i will. plant and water, several times if possible to settle dirt around the roots. they will wilt and may go into shock but usually come back the next year, and they deffinately prefer lots of company of other plants.they reproduce slowly sometimes seeds may take several years to sprout.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 6:01PM
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Where can I find lots of wild ramps and leeks in west virginia..

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 3:30PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I think I like ramps. lol
Anybody from GA, Atlanta/north GA knows where to find them in the woods/wild ? I have regular leeks and mediteranian leeks growing in my garde. They Are wonderful as green onions substitute in salads and cooking. So, I would like to get my hands on RAMPS.
Any ideas where to spot them in GA?
Thanks in advance of your comments.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 6:20PM
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That's strange, on that map showing the native range of Ramps, SC isn't highlighted, but Ga is?

I'm in the Upstate, piedmont region. Good hills, but no mountains. Gets plenty cold and we usually have at least one good snow.

Would really like to give them a shot, I have a N and E facing 'hill' for my back yard with sweet gum and hickory trees. Plenty of leaf litter as it's a bit steep to get in there. LOL


    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 2:58PM
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