Celery that is grown in a home garden will have much more flavor than stalks bought at the local supermarket. The stalks will also have higher water content and the green color will be a little brighter.
This vegetable is easy to grow and the crisp green stalks are low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins A, C and K. The entire plant is edible from roots to leaves and will layer of flavor to almost any recipe.
Set aside a little space in your garden next planting season to grow celery with these planting and growing tips.
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Celery grows the best full sun and it requires a lot of water. Select a sunny location that is convenient to a water source to make plant care easier.
The celery is a cool-season vegetable and will not tolerate the heat of summer. The good news about cool-season vegetables is that two crops can be grown every year- one in the spring and one in the fall.
Plant celery in early spring and/or in late summer for a fall harvest. The plant will take approximately 16 weeks of cool weather to reach maturity. Start seeds indoors in mid-winter for a spring harvest and mid-summer for a fall harvest.
While celery hates hot weather, it will tolerate light frost and can be transplanted into a spring garden before the last frost date. Fresh celery can be harvested through fall and into winter in mild climates.
The celery plant produces deep roots and the soil must be loosened 12 to 15 inches deep. Use a rototiller or turning fork to loosen the soil. Spread 4-5 inches of compost or well-rotted animal manure on top of loosened soil and lightly work it in.
This vegetable will grow best in soil that has a neutral pH level and capable of retaining moisture.
Incorporating compost into the soil will feed the plants and allow the soil to the moisture needed for growing celery. If you plan to use another type of fertilizer, either organic or commercial, add it on top of the prepared soil at this time. Water the prepared soil thoroughly and let sit for 3 days before planting celery.
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How To Plant Celery
It’s time to plant seedlings on the fourth day. Set celery seedlings out in the garden soil 12 inches apart. Dig a shallow trench between the plants to catch and hold water. Water newly planted seedlings thoroughly.
How To Start Seeds
Due to the long growing season celery requires and the plant’s intolerance of heat, seeds have to be started indoors 10-12 weeks before the intended planting date.
Soak seeds overnight before planting in starter trays or cups to speed up the germination process.
Prepare tray or cups by filling them with a potting soil mix that contains compost. Moisten potting soil and lightly press soaked seeds into potting soil. Do not cover seeds.
Lightly mist with water and cover cups or tray with plastic wrap to retain moisture. Place in a location that will remain between 60-70 degrees at all times. Seeds will germinate in 5-7 days. Remove the plastic wrap when sprouts appear.
Light Them Up
The new seedlings will need to be placed in bright light for several hours a day. Use a grow light to supplement natural sunlight (or to meet all the light needs of the seedlings). Try to give the seedling 16 hours of light and 8 hours of dark daily while they are growing.
Mist seedlings regularly and never allow the soil to dry out.
When seedlings are 2 inches tall, transplant them to individual peat pots or a deeper tray with new potting soil. Set the plants at least 2 inches apart if transplanting to a deeper tray.
Continue to keep the soil moist and provide light for the seedlings. Harden off seedlings before transplanting them outdoors by reducing water and placing them outdoors for 2 hours each day.
Garden soil needs to be kept moist at all times for optimum celery growth. Flood the area during hot weather so the water will run into the shallow trenches that were dug at planting time. The water will slowly seep into the soil and reach plant roots. Celery tolerates water-logged soil better than dry soil, so don’t be afraid of over-watering during hot weather.
Mulch plants with 2-4 inches of compost, straw, or other organic matter to help the soil retain moisture. Feed plant with your choice of plant food every 30 days.
To encourage the development of a pale, mild-flavored celery heart secure the stalks into a bunch for the last two weeks before harvesting. This will prevent sunlight from entering the center of the stalk. A soft hair scrunchie will hold the stalk together without harming them.
Celery is easy to grow in a home garden and has a better flavor than store-bought varieties. Since the entire plant can be eaten, it well earns a spot in the garden.
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