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How to grow Celery - the essential guide to growing Celery

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In this guide to growing Celery we will look at the key points that will help you yield a good crop of Celery.

Preparation

Dig some organic compost or manure into the soil a few weeks before planting out the celery seedlings. This will help soil moisture retention and provide nutrients for your Celery plants.

Sowing

Celery germination rates are low so sow your celery seeds in stations (5 seeds a station). Sow stations in seed plugs or around 5 cm apart if sowing in seed trays. Sow seed about 0.5 cm deep. Thin out all but the strongest plant that emerges from each station.

In the UK and similar climates you can sow your celery seed in late March or about 8 weeks before the last frost. A hard frost can completely destroy a whole crop. Germination takes from around 12-14 days. Germination is most successful when temperatures are around 70 deg F.

Planting out

Plant out your celery seedlings when they are about 8 cm tall. This is normally about 5-6 weeks after sowing. Wait until temperatures have risen above 55 deg F. / 13 deg C.. Space your seedlings about 20 cm apart in rows that are about 90 cm apart.

If you have missed the window for sowing Celery then don't panic. You can still try growing a crop by purchasing seedlings from your garden center. Plant the seedlings out into the garden after the last frosts.

When planting out, the crown of the plant should be at soil level.

Position

Celery does not grow well in hot conditions. A position that receives shade for the hottest part of the day is a good choice. You can grow the plants in grids or in rows.

Soil type

Celery likes soil that is capable of retaining moisture. Address this before planting out by digging in organic matter such as garden compost.

On well drained soil, ensure the celery receives adequate regular watering in warm periods.

Tending

Celery has a long growing period - around 5 months . Careful and regular watering is vital for good celery yields.

Inadequate watering in a hot spell will result in the stems becoming tough and stringy.

Weed between the celery plants ensuring that you do not disturb any of the vegetables roots. Weeds will compete strongly against celery for nutrients, light and moisture.

Some gardeners prefer to blanch their celery. This will reduce the presence of any bitterness in the stalks flavor and will make your stalks paler. You can blanch your celery by covering up the stems to prevent light reaching them.

Material you can use for covering the stalks include soil or mulch. Build the blanching material up as the stalks develop. Usually from about a month before you harvest the celery. The process of covering the stems with soil is sometimes known as 'earthing up'.

Good news for gardeners...

Celery has had a reputation as being quite a difficult crop to grow. This is due to the effort of blanching and the need of a moist soil . Yet in recent years plant producers have introduced 'self-blanching' varieties.

Harvesting

Harvest celery when it has reached the desired size. This is about 12-18 inches (30-45 cm). Cut the plant off above the soil line so that all stalks are still as one unit. Wash the stalk bulb in cold water and dry. Celery will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Celery will blanch naturally when in storage.

If preferred you can remove a few stalks at a time. If doing this remove the outer stalks first. Let the less developed inner stalks continue in their development. Take care not to damage the rest of the plant if removing individual stalks.

Diseases

Various pests such as aphids, slugs and celery flies. The process of earthing up to blanch the celery can increase the level of pests.

Culinary uses

Celery has a high water content and fibrous structure. This makes it great for those who like to snack without gaining weight. It is great used as crudites for dipping in hummus, sour cream dips etc.

You can use Celery in Juicer recipes. If juicing Celery then chop it into short sections before feeding it through the juicer. Otherwise the long fibers can clog the juicer up.

Celery is also a key component of the 'ploughmans lunch'. This is a meal which also includes cheese, apple and bread.

 

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