Quote: Michelle Brooke: I am planning to grow mine indoors year round.
All About Growing Celery
If you think celery lacks flavor, you’ve probably never tried it homegrown. Brace yourself for a completely new experience! Another plus to growing this deliciously crunchy crop yourself? You can bypass commercial, non-organic celery, which continually ranks near the top of the list of vegetables known to carry chemical residues:
When to Plant Celery
Celery seeds of all types are small and may germinate erratically. Start them in doors or in a greenhouse 10 to 12 weeks before your last spring frost and give them bright light. Seedlings that have more than five leaves can be hardened off and set out when average night temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposure to cold for more than a week can trigger plants to bolt and produce seeds. In hot summer areas with mild winters, start seeds indoors in late summer and set them out in early fall. Plants should be ready to harvest about 90 days after you put your seedlings in the ground.
How to Plant Celery
Choose a sunny site that is convenient to water, because celery requires constant moisture. If possible, allow space between rows for a shallow trench that can be flooded with water in dry weather. Dig in a 1-inch layer of rich compost and a standard application of a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer, such as dried poultry manure, and water well. Wait at least three days before planting seedlings 12 to 14 inches apart. Before hot weather comes, mulch between plants with grass clippings or another organic mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.
Growing Celery: Tips and Tricks
Celery and celeriac seedlings should show vigorous new growth a few weeks after they have been transplanted. Plants that are making little progress should be drenched with fish emulsion or another organic liquid fertilizer. Try to keep the plants’ roots moist at all times, and don’t worry about excessive rain — celery and celeriac tolerate waterlogged soil better than other vegetables.
To encourage stalk celery to develop a pale, mild-flavored heart, use an elastic hair scrunchie or strips of soft cloth to secure the stalks into a bunch after the plants have been growing in the garden for eight to 10 weeks. Blanching — excluding light from the stalks to prevent chlorophyll production — for one to two weeks is necessary to grow celery that looks lighter and tastes milder (think supermarket celery).
Harvesting and Storage
Cut high, 1 to 2 inches from the ground, when harvesting celery hearts. A new stalk (and sometimes two or three) will sprout from the stump left behind. Trim off excess leaves and tough outer stalks before storing celery in the refrigerator. Freeze blemished celery and the outside stalks that are dark and coarse for flavoring broths and stocks. Include bits of celery or cutting celery in packets of frozen garden veggies. Blanch and dry a bumper crop of stalk celery or cutting celery. Dried celery makes a great addition to homemade soup mixes.
Celeriac plants shed their lowest, oldest leaves naturally beginning in midsummer. Low, hollow stems in good condition can even be used as novel drinking straws. Harvest celeriac before hard freezes damage the roots. Clip off all leaves and roots before storing celeriac in the refrigerator or packed in damp sand in your root cellar.
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