About Wild Leek: In many areas of the country, wild leeks are referred to as "ramps" and considered a springtime delicacy. Because of their early growth, the broad leaves of this plant provided Native Americans and early settlers with valuable vitamins and minerals after long winters. Thick patches of wild leeks grow in the shade of deciduous forests across eastern Canada, as well as in nearly every state east of the Mississippi River. The bulbs have a mild taste similar to sweet onions, with notes of garlic. Since gathering the tasty bulbs of wild leek has become a tradition, its presence in the wild has decreased. Cultivating new plantings of wild leek will help preserve this plant for future generations.
Wild Leek Germination: Wild leek seed is "double dormant," requiring exposure to two winters before it will emerge from the soil. Though the seeds usually germinate after their first winter, they develop only their roots in the first year; the foliage does not appear until the second spring after planting. To follow the natural process, direct sow the seeds on the surface of the soil and cover them lightly with several inches of leaf litter. Wild leeks grow best in the well drained, rich soil of a wooded area with partial or full shade. For faster germination, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 30-60 days, then in a 70-75 degrees F location for 30-60 days, followed by another 30-60 days in the refrigerator. Sow 2-3 seeds in each individual pot and keep lightly moist until germination. When the foliage grows tall enough so that the plants can be safely handled, transplant them 4-6" apart, keeping them at the same depth they had been growing. For bigger clumps, plant 2-3 seedlings together.
Growing Wild Leek Seeds: At all stages of their growth, wild leeks need adequate moisture; this greatly affects the germination and growth rate, as well as the quality of the plant. A layer of leaf mulch, the best variety of mulch for this plant, provides protection from weeds as well as conserving valuable soil moisture. Wild leek has broad leaves that die off before the flowers bloom. Wild leeks will self seed if left to drop their seed, though new plants may not be seen for several growing seasons.
Harvesting Wild Leek: Mature plants can be harvested as soon as they have flowered. For the best future growth of the planting, harvest no more than 15 percent of the leeks or only the largest ones in the planting. Take care not to damage plants that are left to grow. While harvesting, keep the leeks cool and moist. Wash the leeks thoroughly and trim off the root ends. Pack in an open container and store in a cool place.
Saving Wild Leek Seeds: After the plants have flowered, a seed pod will develop. As soon as the seeds inside ripen to black, remove the pods and spread them out to dry. Rub them lightly to separate the seed from the pods. Store the seed in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Detailed Wild Leek Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Small White Leek, Ramp Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 6-9 inches Spacing: 12-15 inches Light: Part Sun to Woodland Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 1,400 Produces broad, smooth blades and small clusters of starry white flowers.