Growing Celery

CeleryAlmost absent of calories, yet chock-full of important vitamins and minerals, growing celery produces flavorful leafstalks for use in everything from salads to soups and casseroles. Celery requires long periods of warm, but not high temperatures and can be grown in home gardens in most parts of the country. It is not suited to humid climates.

Site Preparation:

Celery thrives in cool, moist locations. Select a planting site that receives at least one half day of sun and is rich in organic soil. A heavy feeder, celery does well planted after legumes.

How to Plant:

Seeds should be planted in flats in the early spring, and set out when the soil begins to warm. Set seedlings 6 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. Apply liquid fish fertilizer every 2 weeks. Some gardeners say to plant celery in trenches, and then mound soil over the plants as they grow. Others say simply to mound soil as the plants grow to keep them upright. For white stalks, plant in milk cartons to prevent light from reaching the stalks (the leaves need sunlight).

Mulch heavily around celery plants with organic compost. This helps keep the soil cool, prevents moisture loss, and creates a stable, long lasting soil for your garden.

Harvesting:

Begin harvesting when the stalks are large enough to use, up until the first frost. Cut individual stalks as needed, beginning with the outer ones, or cut the root of the plant just below the crown. Harvest should occur 100 to 125 days after planting.

Insects and Diseases:

If the foliage on your plants curls, puckers and turns yellow, check for aphids. Yellow leaves may also be a sign of fusarium wilt. Infected plants show one sided growth and the vascular strands become reddish brown from the roots to the leaves. Check for slugs if you notice large ragged holes in the leaves or stems.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Biennial. In mild climates, celery can be over-wintered in the ground. Where winters are severe, the plants must be dug and stored in a root cellar. Celery plants should be trimmed back and stored in damp earth or sand with the crowns exposed. Store plants between 32-40 degrees F. Plant back out in early spring, the plants will develop flower stalks that must be prevented from crossing. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.

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