Allium tricoccum (6-18 months) Open-pollinated. Also called Wild Leeks. This bulb-forming perennial is a spring ephemeral. Their rapid rise as the darling of top chefs has led to overharvesting. Now considered a species of “special concern” for conservation in Maine and other states; in Québec commercial harvesting is banned. With patience and care you can sustainably grow and harvest your own woodland crop. Delectable pungent flavor, a mix of garlic and onion, is true wildwood fare—worth the long wait. Not a good germinator, often with latent dormancy; expect less than 50%. ②
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Culture: Ramps are a native perennial of deciduous forests, growing best in cool shady areas with damp rich soil high in organic matter and calcium. An open-field setting is probably too dry and exposed for good germination, and the plants do not have a long life in artificial shade. Because this is a wild plant, seed planted in the spring will germinate that spring if conditions are right; if not, it may germinate the next spring. Mark your patches well and provide protection from predation. Once a bulb is formed, the new leaves emerge in early spring, before the tree canopy develops; by late spring leaves die back and a flower stalk emerges. Photosynthetic period and the harvest window is limited to these few weeks. Once established, ramps grow in close communities, strongly rooted just beneath the soil surface. Harvest carefully with a sharp knife, cutting plants just above the roots. Disturb roots as little as possible.
Culture: Start allium seeds indoors in February or March. Minimum germination soil temperature 45°; optimal range 60-70 °. We discourage using bottom heat because alliums germinate poorly in soil temps above 70°. Transplant in spring soon after the ground can be worked.
Alliums are heavy feeders and want generous amounts of organic matter, fertilizer and water. Late transplanting and poor fertility can result in small onions or failure to form bulbs. Alliums are notoriously intolerant of weeds. Slugs love to munch them, and in areas above 40° latitude, root maggots may be a problem.
About allium seed: Allium seed is short-lived. Test 1-year-old seed before using. Discard anything older.
Diseases: DM Downy Mildew PR Pink Root
ALERT: Leek Moth is emerging as a serious pest potentially affecting all Alliums in the Northeast. Consult your local Cooperative Extension for more info.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.