Celery is an incredible plant and a great addition to a complete breakfast. It can be added to soups, salads, or as garnishing and spice to almost any meal, it's that versatile. However, it can also be expensive to constantly buy sticks of celery at the supermarket.
Growing your own celery, on the other hand, costs much less and if you have a garden you can do it without much trouble at all! Today I'll be telling you all about celery and how to grow it in your garden so you can eat it every day!
What You Should Know About Celery
Celery is quite common, and you have probably eaten tons if it during your lifetime. However, there's probably still a lot you don't know about this plant, and it is more special than you might think. Here are a few facts about these great vegetables!
So, celery has had quite a rich history, being used as everything from a decorative plant to an aphrodisiac and only relatively recently has it seen culinary use. It survived since antiquity, but not because it’s easy to grow. However, with the right advice, it is not as hard as it may seem.
Preparing The Soil For Celery
The first step to successfully growing any plant is a well-maintained garden with good-quality soil. However, the same type of soil is not good for every plant and celery has its own preferences, of course.
Celery prefers soil that is almost constantly moist, well-fertilized and in the pH range between 5.7 and 6.0. This is one of the reasons celery is considered to be difficult to grow and one of the hardest gardening challenges.
To start with you should pick a good patch of soil that won’t be too hot or too cold at any point during the growing season. Celery is extremely sensitive to both heat, and it can fail easily due to that, so you need a spot in a medium shade that’s not exposed to the wind.
First, dig out the soil and remove any big stones, roots or weeds. You should put some compost or manure in the soil two or three weeks before planting your celery to ensure moist retention and the optimal nutrition for your plants.
One week before planting you should rake in some general purpose granular fertilizer into the surface of the soil. This will ensure that the soil is nutritious enough and that the seeds will be more likely to germinate.
Planting Celery The Right Way
The ideal time to plant your celery seeds would be somewhere around early April, in moderate climates. Some people choose to plant celery indoors or use crops from nurseries, but I think it’s best to plant it outdoors straight off. That reduces the risk of transplant shock, and it allows you to use a wider variety of cultivars. Also, it takes a lot of money to grow celery indoors since it will be around 90 days before you can transplant it safely.
The first thing you need to know about celery seeds is that they germinate extremely slowly. You can speed up the process by soaking them in water or a damp cloth overnight before planting them, but it will still take a while. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t sprout up quickly
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that celery germination rates are extremely low, even in ideal conditions. Because of this, you need to plant the seeds in clusters (also called stations) of at least 5 or 6, to ensure that you’ll have a viable plant in each cluster. The seeds need to be 0.5cm deep, and the clusters need to be around 5cm apart from each other.
If more than one plant manages to emerge from a cluster of seeds, you need to thin out all except the strongest one. Otherwise, all of them will fail.
How To Care For Growing Celery
The growing period for celery is quite long – usually around 5 months. Due to this, taking care of it is often a tedious process, something that you will find even harder due to how delicate the plant is.
When caring for celery you need to provide at least several inches of mulch each week and around 1 inch of water, but it can be more if the weather is hot and dry. Weeds need to be removed constantly and gently, especially in the early days so as not to damage the delicate celery roots. Every two weeks you need to feed the celery with an organic fertilizer or compost tea.
If the temperature ever falls below 55 degrees F, you need to protect it by covering it with cloches.
When the celery plants start getting bigger, you need to tie them together to keep them from sprawling.
You will also need to blanch your celery if you want it to taste better. If you want it to be more nutritious, don’t do it. If you picked a ‘self-blanching’ cultivar, you don’t need to do this.
Blanch the celery by putting milk cartons with open tops and bottoms over the stalks and leave them there for one to two weeks before harvest. Once the stalks become lighter, you’ll know you succeeded.
There are a few pests you need to watch out for – carrot rust flies and nematodes are the worst. You can get rid of them by handpicking them from the leaves once they show up.
As far as diseases go, blight is as common as in other plants, appearing as pink rot and dots on the leaves. The only way to deal with it is crop rotation. The only other problem might be a lack of boron in the soil, evident by cracked stems and deformed leaves. Correct it by spraying the plants with liquid seaweed until the symptoms go away.
So, that’s about all I can tell you. If you follow these instructions, you should be able to grow your own celery, though mishaps can and will happen and not everything is up to you, so don’t get too frustrated if things go a bit awry. Just keep at it, and you’ll succeed eventually!
If you have any questions or advice you want to share, feel free to comment down below, and I’ll see you next time!