Growing Celery

Tall green stalks for an unbeatable crunch. Homegrown Celery has a zesty flavor and crunch that beats mass-produced varieties hands down.

There are two basic types of Celery; standard green Celery, and golden or self-blanching varieties.

Green Celery varieties have a stronger taste, are crisper, and contain more vitamins than self-blanching types.

Some people prefer pale-colored Celery, and will blanch green varieties by mounding soil around stalks or by using a brown paper bag to keep sunlight from deepening the stem’s color.

Self-blanching types have naturally lighter colored stems, similar to the color of Celery in grocery stores. Some people like its softer texture and subtler flavor.

Celery seedlings are a spring and summer crop and must be kept well watered to prevent the plant from flowering in a process called bolting’, which causes stalks to turn bitter.

Planting Celery:

1. Ten to twelve weeks before mid-spring, fill a seed tray with potting soil. Lightly press Celery seeds into the soil then spray with water.

2. Cover the tray with a plastic bag and set it in an area with indirect light. When the seeds begin to sprout, remove the plastic and move the tray to a sunny location.

3. Thin the seedlings so the Celery plants are 3 cm apart after the second set of true leaves appear, or plant the seedlings into individual peat pots.

4. Dig and 8-10 cm layer of compost into the planting area. When the weather warms in spring, plant the seedlings 15-25cm apart, in rows 60 cm apart.

5. Feed Celery plants with a liquid fertilizer every three weeks. Keep the plants well watered, soaking the soil thoroughly each time.

When harvesting Celery simply pull off the outer stalks. The plant will keep producing more stalks from the center.

If you see cracked, brittle stems and leaves with brown spots, this is usually a sign of a boron deficiency.

Avoid this by adding plenty of compost when planting. Keep the plants well fed during the growing season with a balanced, liquid fertilizer.

Splitting is most often caused by a lack of water or excess nitrogen. Keep the plants well watered and avoid high nitrogen fertilizers.

Pink rot is a fungal disease that causes pink sports and fuzzy dying growth near the base of the stalks.

Remove and destroy the affected plants. Rotate the crops and do not grow Celery where Broccoli or other members of the Brassica family have grown.

Buy seeds for a greater selection. If you prefer seedlings, choose plants with several strong stems. Avoid Celery plants that are too large for their containers.

They are likely to bolt before they can grow any edible stems.

Celery grows best in full sun with mild nights. It thrives in temperatures ranging from 10-15 degrees C. Celery also loves well-drained, humus rich soil.

They need very rich soil that holds ample moisture, yet drains well.

To make Celery seeds sprout more quickly, soak in water for about three hours. Drain, dry and freeze them for a week and then sow them.

Weed around the plants with your hands. Many roots are near the soil’s surface and can be damaged by a hoe.

Celery can be stored for many months. Before the weather gets cold in autumn, pull up the entire plant including the roots.

Push the roots into a container of sand, leaving the top uncovered. Store them in a cool, dark place.

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