Growing Wild Garlic | The Beginners Guide

Last Updated on 11/07/2023 by Barney

Growing wild garlic is Easy

Welcome, fellow green thumbs! Are you ready to take your gardening skills to the next level? Growing wild garlic (Allium ursinum) , also known as ramps or ramson, is a great plant to start with!

Not only are the wild garlic leaves delicious but incredibly easy to grow and maintain.

In this beginner’s guide, I’ll give you all the answers you need to know to grow wild garlic at home successfully, from planting to harvesting.

1.) Knowing When to plant wild garlic bulbs [UK]

The best bet for having a quick wild garlic harvest is to plant wild garlic bulbs in late winter to early Spring. The bulbs are sold as as ‘in the green’ which are available from specialist on-line retailers in late winter to early spring.

2.) Where to plant

Wild garlic is a relatively adaptable plant that can grow in a range of soil types and light levels, but there are a few general guidelines that can help you achieve the best results:

Soil type: Wild garlic prefers a moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. It can grow in a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils as long as its moist. One thing wild garlic hates is dry soil.

If your soil is prone to waterlogging or compacted add some compost or other organic matter which will help turn it into a fertile, rich soil with good drainage.

Sun or shade: Wild garlic grows in a range of light levels, from full sun to partial shade. In general, it prefers slightly shaded or dappled light conditions, such as those found on the forest floor and ancient woodlands. If you’re growing wild garlic in a garden, try to choose a spot that gets dappled shade but protected from intense midday sun.

3.) How to Plant the bulbs

Unless planting on an allotment try to avoid planting in rows like you would when growing cultivated garlic . In the wild the plants grow in clumps spreading outwards. Try to mimic this for a naturalistic look.

Planting bulbs is simple.

Once the planting area has been prepared plant the bulbs 3-4″ deep and round the same apart. Firm in and give a good watering.

4.) Caring for wild garlic

  1. Watering: While wild garlic plants prefer moist soil, it can be susceptible to rot if the soil is too waterlogged. Water your wild garlic regularly, especially during dry spells, but be sure not to overwater it.
  2. Mulching: Mulching around your wild garlic plants can help retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth. Use a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or straw, around the base of your plants, being careful not to cover the leaves or stems.

By providing your wild garlic plants with the right soil type, light levels, and moisture levels, you can help ensure that they grow healthy and strong, providing you with a bountiful summer harvest of flavorful leaves and bulbs.

5.) Harvesting wild garlic

When growing wild garlic you are growing for the gorgeous mild garlic flavour leaves. Unlike growing cultivated garlic where the segmented bulb is the prize.

The bulb and flowers are also edible but if you eat the bulbs you’ll be removing some of next years leaves for harvesting.

Depending on the weather wild garlic leaves will be ready for picking from late February to late April. Pick the leaves that are long and bright green.

Once the plants have flowered the leaves will die back and that’s it for this years harvest.

Great Reasons to grow this beauty

Unique flavor: Wild garlic has a distinct, mild garlic flavor that can add depth and complexity to a range of dishes. Use it to make your own wild garlic pesto, mayonnaise, soups and stuffing for pork.

Easy to grow: Growing wild garlic is ridiculously easy. Just a bit of ground preparation, plonk in your bulbs and away you go.

Nutritional value: Wild garlic is a good source of vitamins and minerals. These lovelies include vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. It also contains antioxidants and other beneficial compounds which can help support overall health.

Ecological value: Wild garlic is a great plant for supporting local wildlife. It provides food, shelter and habitat for pollinators and other small animals.

Cost-effective: Being a hardy perennial, wild garlic will continue to provide free food for foraging year after year.

Overall, growing wild garlic can be a fun and rewarding experience, whether you’re a foodie looking to experiment with new flavors, a gardener looking for a low-maintenance plant to add to your collection, or someone who simply appreciates the ecological and nutritional value of this versatile plant.

Wild Garlic Bulbs vs Wild Garlic Seeds

Advantages of growing wild garlic bulbs:

  1. Faster growth: When you plant wild garlic bulbs, they will typically sprout and grow more quickly than seed-planted garlic, allowing you to harvest the leaves and bulbs sooner.
  2. Consistent flavor: Wild garlic bulbs produce clones of the parent plant, which means that the flavor of the leaves and bulbs will be consistent from one generation to the next.
  3. Easy to plant: Planting wild garlic bulbs is a simple and straightforward process. Simply dig a small hole and place the bulb in the soil, making sure to cover it with a thin layer of soil.

Disadvantages of growing wild garlic bulbs:

  1. Higher cost: Wild garlic bulbs can be more expensive to purchase than seeds, which can be a deterrent for some gardeners.
  2. Limited availability: Wild garlic bulbs are not always widely available, especially in areas where wild garlic is not commonly grown or sold.

Advantages of growing wild garlic seed:

  1. More cost-effective: Wild garlic seeds are typically less expensive to purchase than bulbs, which can be a more affordable option for some gardeners.
  2. Greater availability: Wild garlic seeds are more widely available and can often be purchased from a variety of seed suppliers and nurseries.

Disadvantages of growing wild garlic seed:

  1. Slower growth: Wild garlic seeds can take longer to sprout and grow than bulbs, which means that it may take longer to harvest a usable crop of leaves and bulbs.
  2. Variability in flavor: Wild garlic seeds can produce plants with slightly different flavors than the parent plant, which means that there may be some variability in the taste of the leaves and bulbs from one generation to the next.

Ultimately, the decision to grow from bulb or seed will depend on a variety of factors, including availability, cost, and personal preference.

Both methods can be effective for growing this flavorful and nutritious plant, so it’s really a matter of choosing the approach that works best for your needs and gardening style.

Common Problems

Wild garlic is generally a hardy and low-maintenance plant, but there are a few pests and diseases that can affect it. These are the most common:

  1. Onion Fly: Onion fly is a small insect that lays its eggs at the base of the wild garlic plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow and wilt. To prevent onion fly, plant wild garlic in well-drained soil, rotate crops, and avoid planting garlic in the same spot for more than two years in a row.
  2. White Rot: White rot is a fungal disease that affects the bulbs of wild garlic, causing them to rot and become soft. To prevent white rot, plant wild garlic in well-drained soil, avoid planting garlic in the same spot for more than two years in a row, and remove any infected bulbs as soon as they are discovered.
  3. Rust: Rust is a fungal disease that causes yellow or brown spots to appear on the wild garlic leaves. To prevent rust, plant wild garlic in well-drained soil, avoid overcrowding plants, and remove any infected leaves as soon as they are discovered.
  4. Slugs and snails: Slugs and snails can be a common problem for wild garlic, as they are attracted to the tender leaves. To prevent slug and snail damage, use organic slug pellets or handpick the pests off the plant.

Overall, wild garlic is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is resistant to many pests and diseases.

By planting in well-drained soil, avoiding overcrowding, and practicing good sanitation, you can help keep your wild garlic plants healthy and productive.

Common Questions

Q. which Part of Wild Garlic can i eat?

The entire wild garlic plant is edible, including the leaves, bulbs, and flowers.

The leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant, as they have a mild garlic flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries.

The bulbs of the wild garlic plant also taste great and have a stronger flavor than the leaves. However, they are generally smaller than traditional garlic bulbs, so they can be more difficult to harvest and prepare.

The flowers of the wild garlic plant are also edible and can be used as a garnish or added to salads for a pop of color and flavor.

When harvesting wild garlic, be sure to wash the leaves and bulbs thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris, and avoid harvesting from areas that may have been contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals

Q.)How do you prepare wild garlic for eating?

Wash, wash and wash again. As with any foraged food they can have surface nasties such as fox tape worm eggs.

I prefer to blanche mine as the high heat kills anything undesirable.

From wild garlic pesto to sumptuous soups.

Q.) Can I Grow Wild Garlic In Pots?

Yes, wild garlic can be grown in pots or containers. This makes it an ideal option when limited space is available or who live in apartments or other areas without access to a traditional garden.

To grow wild garlic in pots, you’ll need a container that is at least 6 inches deep and has drainage holes in the bottom. Drainage holes prevent water from pooling around the roots. Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix, and plant the wild garlic bulbs or seeds according to the instructions.

Place the pot in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day .Water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Wild garlic Grown in pots it may not produce as large of a yield as plants grown directly in the ground but it can still be a rewarding and flavorful addition to your herb garden.

Q.) Is wild garlic invasive?

Yes. Not contained wild garlic spreads. If growing in a flower border or a location where this is not wanted install a small root barrier.

Q.) Can you eat wild garlic flowers?

Yes. Dress your salads & make them look like they’ve come from the kitchen of a Michelin starred restaurant, sprinkle a few leaves over for the wow factor.

Q.) What is wild garlic?

Wild garlic, also known as ramson or ramps, is a plant species native to Europe and Asia. It is part of the Allium genus, which also includes onions, garlic, and chives.

Wild garlic is a perennial plant that typically grows in shaded, moist environments such as woodland floors and riverbanks. It has long, slender leaves that can reach up to 50 cm in height and a distinctive garlic-like smell when crushed.

In the spring, wild garlic produces clusters of small white flowers on tall stems, which are also edible and have a delicate flavor.

The bulbs of wild garlic can be used in cooking as a mild garlic substitute, while the leaves can be used raw in salads or cooked as a vegetable.

Wild garlic is a popular ingredient in European cuisine and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It is also known for its ecological and wildlife value, supporting a range of insects and animals in its natural habitat.

It’s a wrap from me

So there we have it. It’s easy to grow wild garlic. Just pick the right location, make sure the soil is moist and free draining and away from scorching mid-day sun.

Still not tempted by wild garlic? Take a look at my garlic growing guide and perhaps if feeling really adventurous my guide to growing elephant garlic, the daddy of them all.

Growing onions & garlic is possibly the easiest of vegetable crops, especially when beginning. Get out these today and start the amazing journey of ‘growing your own’.