Celery is a wild plant, which used to be found in plentiful supply on the marshy ground along the riverside. As such, it likes it there, as it grows well in those conditions. Celery comes from the same plant family as parsley and carrots. The plant contains very few calories, which most people are aware of, but you may not know that it contains quite a few health benefits. If you research it, you will find that it is used to lower constipation, reduce cholesterol, and it has a healthy amount of fibre and nutrients.
I’m not too fond of celery, and as my wife is the only person that does like it, we cannot afford to give it any growing room. But we, of course, need to include it on the list of vegetables.
You can get (off the top of my head) almost a dozen varieties to grow, and if you are going to buy seeds for growing, read the packets or online descriptions carefully. You can get self-blanching varieties, thus reducing the work, and you can get early varieties. Some are also resistant to disease, and believe it or not; you can get different coloured stalks, including purple.
The appropriate time to sow the Celery seed is mid-March to early April. You can sow them in modules, seed trays, and pots. However, make sure the compost in the pots and seed trays is moist enough and has a temperature of around 15°C.
You can prevent the transplant shock by sowing the seeds directly. But, sowing in pots and trays is better. You can then transplant the modules to the designated plants once the seedlings are grown enough.
While cultivating these varieties, you have to make sure that the soil is moisture retentive.
Here are some tips that I suggest you should follow while sowing the seeds:
- Sow the seeds thinly. The best time to sow is the middle of March, up until the beginning of April, and when you can
- Apply the fine layer of sieved compost or fine vermiculite.
- Remain patient until seeds start germinating, as it like watching paint dry
- Transplant the seedlings once several true leaves appear on them.
- Plant only one seedling in 3 inches modules or pots
- Maintain the temperature above 50°F or 10°C once they have started to pop up, as bolting may occur if the temperature is low after the germination process. If it falls below that (say overnight), it may cause the celery to bolt later on. But of course, you won’t know this until later on.
- The best advice is not to sow the plants unless or until you can maintain a suitable temperature.
What the plant needs most is sufficient water over its growing season.
While transplanting at the end of May or early June, ensure that plants are hardened off. On the other hand, bolting may occur if plants get chilled or shocked during growth or transplantation. It can get quite fickle in low temperatures.
When it comes to trenching the celery, here’re the steps that you need to follow:
- Wait for March or October/ November
- Dig a nice deep trench approx.. 15-20 inches (40 to 50cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm)
- Apply copious amounts of mulch (well-rotted organic matter).
- Apply two handfuls of high potassium fertilizer per square meter/yard. Vitax Q4 is the best high potassium general fertilizer.
- Plant the celery in a nice straight row along the trench that you made.
- Earth up the soil around the stems once they reach 12 inches (30 cm) in height. You can earth it up 3 inches (8 cm) of soil at a time, so little by little. However, make sure the top of the plant is left exposed. You can also use a collar made of plastic drainpipe, newspaper, brown paper, or corrugated cardboard if you have got the variety that isn’t self-blanching.
- Many growers plant the celery, including self-blanching and green celery 9 inches (23cm) apart in a block. Since it ensures that one plant is shading the other, the reason is that it helps in blanching.
- Never allow the plants to dry out because, as we said before, they could bolt. To ensure that this is prevented, water the plants regularly before dry weather starts.
- Apply the general liquid fertilizer every fortnight in summer if you have grown the celery in pots. They will lap it up, and you will have stronger, healthier plants.
- Apply the high nitrogen fertilizer lightly when they are established. It helps in getting a better crop – which is what we all strive for.
You can harvest the celery in August and October. Since frost can damage the celery, ensure the harvesting of the celery before the frost. However, trench celery (the varieties you grow in as trench and earth up) can withstand the frost. It can survive at the start of winter, until around December.
You can use a sharp knife to cut the plants at the base to ensure a clean bunch of celery goes into the kitchen.
Slugs and snails
These eat young seedlings, leaving a slime trail in the soil around your crop and on leaves.
You can use biocontrols, copper tape, sawdust, and beer traps to control the slugs and snails.
Celery leaf spot
It appears as brown spots. Firstly, these spots appear on the older leaves and keep spreading to younger ones.
You can prevent the celery leaf spot in two ways:
- Rotate crops
- Use treated seeds
I am aware of a dozen varieties of celery. Here is a selection of the better-known ones:
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