Celery is a biennial plant that is a member of the carrot family. The collection of green stalks that make up the celery plant grows 10 inches (25 cm) or more tall and requires a long growing season, typically 5 months.
Celery was once considered to be one of the most challenging vegetables to grow in the home garden. However most of the difficulties are derived from not supply its basic needs. Give celery plants a fertile, organic rich soil with plenty of water and you will have little trouble growing a successful crop.
Celery seedlings are sensitive to temperatures, they will not grow well in cold climates or hot dry, drought prone areas. They thrive in mild or cool weather and are tolerant to shade and wet weather.
when growing celery in warmer climates, plan to grow celery where they receive around 6 hours direct sunlight a day. Or at least where they are shaded during the hottest part of the day.
Growing celery needs garden soil with a neutral to alkaline pH. Fertile, well-drained organic rich soils, prepared with matured animal manure or compost are ideal for growing celery due to their high moisture-holding capacity.
Sandy soils, or soils that do not retain moisture well, are not recommended for this particularly fussy vegetable.
Soil temperatures and air temperatures differ greatest in the early spring. While air temperature might be in the range for planting or sowing seed it will take consistently warm temperature during the day and night for the soil temperature to follow suit.
When the soil temperatures are consistently above 55 F (13 C), and the seedlings are 4-5 inches (10-12 cm) tall, plant the celery seedling into the garden bed. It is important not to get too eager because transplanting to soon into cold conditions will kill or weaken the celery plant.
The method of transplanting into the garden will depend on whether you are growing self blanching celery or not.
The most important aspects of caring for celery are;
Self blanching type needs to be planted in blocks or squares to help in the blanch process. Mulching for this vegetable is extra important. Mulch helps to keep the plant stems covered thus assisting in blanching, and also retains as much moisture to keep roots as moist as possible.
Wild celery is a bog plant, and the close family member that we all love and cherish, the domesticated version, is also a lover of plenty of H2O. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist at all times.
Celery is best watered by soak hose or drip irrigation to reduce the risk from foliage diseases such as Septoria leaf spot.
When transplanting use liquid starter fertilizer. 2 to 3 weeks before transplanting spread 3-4 quarts per 100 sq feet (3.3-4.4 liters per 9.3 square meters) of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer. Use the same rate every 3-4 weeks as side dressing.
Blanching celery gives it a sweeter taste and plants are generally tenderer, however self-blanching varieties are a lot less effort to grow and care for.
Growing celery and blanching the traditional method is by trenching. This involves planting the celery in a trench and gradually filling with soil as the plant grow.
Plant celery seedlings into the trench, plants should be 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) apart within the row.
Plant seedling 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) apart within the row and each row spaced 15-20 inches (38-50 cm) apart. By keeping the celery plant tight together in the rows it helps in the blanching process.
Several weeks before harvest wrap the celery plants with a collar made from cardboard, or similar, and tie loosely with string. Only the top leaves should be exposed to the light. This will need to be repeated until harvest as the celery stems grow above the collar.
Celery can be planted with beans, corn, eggplant, onions, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes and can be planted in beds that previously grew broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and other leafy vegetables.
Aphids, Earwigs, Celery fly and Slugs.
Black Heart, Early Blight, Late Blight, Aphids, Nematodes, Viruses and Septoria leaf spot.
Celery can be harvested by cutting the whole plant off just below the soil line, or just harvest a little here and there by breaking off the outside stems as needed and letting the rest of the plant continue to grow.
Wilting can be a problem when storing celery. However, it should keep for 2-3 months when kept at 32 F (0 C) and 90-95% relative humidity.
Celery can be blanched and frozen for up to 6 months.
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