Monday, August 9, 2010

Grocery store success?

A couple of years ago I planted ramp seeds in my woods. They should have germinated by this Spring, but I saw no sign of them. But I saw ramps on sale at Whole Foods. . . and they were in remarkably good condition, roots and all!

When I told the check-out lady that I intended to plant them, she told me I wasn't the only one doing that. Delightful! Ramps, Allium tricoccum, are quite rare around here, having been destroyed by habitat loss and over-harvesting from the wild. They take at least five years to mature, which is not enough time for their numbers to bounce back after hard harvests.

Not long after planting, the leaves of my ramps withered away: was it an expected part of the ramp life-cycle, or were they dying? But - surprise! Half of the dozen ramps had been preparing to flower. Two of them succeeded, and now have ripening seeds.

These are the first ramps I have ever seen growing. Aside from the one leaf I ate when planting them (mmm, garlic!), I have never tasted ramp. I do hope this means I'll be seeing them again next year.

Last month we took a trip up to Wisconsin to visit family, and one of our stops was at a cabin on a wooded hillside overlooking a lake. There, I noticed some familiar-looking little seed-heads. Quite a few, in fact. Yup, that same garlicy smell. A whole hillside of ramps! And better still, the family member who owns the property is on her way to becoming a Master Gardener in, get this: native flowers! Those ramps are in good hands.

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