Growing organic celery at home can be a challenge, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your produce wasn’t sprayed with chemical pesticides. Plus, the fresh flavor is far superior to anything you can purchase at the grocery store. Give it plenty of water and warm (not hot) conditions and you’ll have a bumper crop come fall.
Almost absent of calories yet chock-full of important health benefits, celery (Apium graveolens) produces crunchy leafstalks for use in everything from salads to soups and casseroles. It is a low-fat, low-carb food that is high in vitamin K (important for blood clotting and bone metabolism), has anti-inflammatory properties and may even lower your risk of cancer.
Fun Fact: Celery was first introduced to America in 1856 when a Scotsman named George Taylor brought seeds from his native land and planted them in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Sow celery indoors on the soil surface up to 10 weeks ahead of the last frost date.View all
Planet Natural offers heirloom vegetable seeds that are non-treated, non-GMO and NOT purchased from Monsanto-owned Seminis. Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE!
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Celery
- Prepare this long-season crop by starting seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost
- Home-grown celery flavor is far superior to store-bought
- Plant in nutrient-rich soil that gets at least 6-8 hours of full sun
- Keep well watered or stalks will be very small
- Matures in 100-125 days; harvest by cutting stalks close to the ground
- Pests and diseases include aphids, Fusarium wilt and garden slugs
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 (see Late Season Cover Crops).
How to Plant
Seeds should be started indoors in propagation flats in the early spring and set out when the soil begins to warm. Set seedlings 8 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. Apply liquid fish fertilizer every 2 weeks.
Some gardeners have success planting celery in trenches and then mounding soil over the plants as they grow. Others say simply to mound soil as the plants grow to keep them upright. Whatever method you use, make sure plants are watered deeply and well mulched.
For white stalks, which some consider a delicacy, plant in milk cartons to prevent light from reaching the plant — but make sure the leaves still receive 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 and Storage
Begin harvesting celery when the stalks are large enough to use, all the way up to the first frost. Cut individual stalks with a pruning knife 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.
Celery can be kept fresh, even for weeks, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Just wrap the stalks tightly in aluminum foil. Do NOT use plastic bags.
Insect & Disease Problems
If the foliage on your celery 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 garden slugs if you notice large ragged holes in the leaves or stems.
Seed Saving Instructions
This biennial can be overwintered in the ground in mild climates. Where winters are severe, celery must be dug up and kept in a root cellar. Plants should be trimmed back and stored — between 32-40˚F — in damp earth or sand with the crowns exposed. Plant back outside in early spring. Flower stalks must be prevented from crossing. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
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