Monday, May 11, 2015

Collecting and Germinating Ramp Seeds

Depending on where you are located, ramps are starting to yellow or soon will be. If you look closely at a patch of ramps, you will probably see flower buds just beginning to show on some of them. Now is the time to plan for seed collection. When ramp seeds are mature, the leaves of the plant are usually gone and the base of the plant is often covered up by the foliage of other plants. It is not uncommon for the only evidence of the ramps to be the seed heads. They can be REALLY difficult to find unless you know exactly where to look.

So, if you want to collect and sow ramp seeds, I suggest that mark your ramp patches now. This can be done with flagging, rock formations, or you could just get a GPS coordinate for the location. Then, in late August to early September, you can return to collect the mature seed. Be sure to wait until the seeds are black.

There are several methods for germinating ramp seeds, and a number of them are described in my book. But here is the easiest procedure that has worked for me. As quoted in the book, "Collect the mature, black seed from the plants in late August before the seeds fall to the ground; then, either immediately plant the seeds in a nursery bed or store the seeds in paper envelopes in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them in a moist site. Little seedlings should emerge after exposure to one warm season and one cold season in the soil. This usually means after 18 months. If you planted the fresh seed early enough in the season for the seeds to get a long period of warm temperatures before the soil cooled down for the winter, you should obtain good emergence the first spring after sowing-in about seven months."

There is a whole section devoted to ramps in the book Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals.. You can order a lead author signed copy of the book by clicking on one of the options in the right sidebar.

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