The unique, strong flavor of celery is instantly recognizable. This popular vegetable makes a wonderful, healthy snack and is also a wonderful part of many vegetable recipes. In this article, we'll talk about growing celery.
Celery is a hardy biennial that is grown as an annual. It has a tight rosette of stalks 8 to l8 inches long, topped with divided leaves. It's a versatile vegetable -- you can eat the stalks, leaves, and seeds -- but it needs a lot of attention. It's not an easy crop for the home gardener.
Common Name: Celery
Scientific Name: Apium graveolens dulce
Hardiness: Hardy (may survive first frost)
In the next section, we'll show you how to grow celery, and talk about the different varieties of celery.
Although celery poses a challenge for home gardeners, the resulting harvest of versatile, delicious vegetables is worth every effort.
Celery does best in cool weather and especially enjoys cool nights. Grow celery in spring in the North, planting transplants two to three weeks before the average date of last frost; in the South plant in the late summer.
Celery prefers rich soil high in organic matter that is well able to hold moisture but with good drainage. It does well in wet locations. Celery is a heavy feeder and needs plenty of fertilizer for quick growth. If you're sowing seeds for transplants, start them two to four months before your estimated planting date: They germinate slowly. Transplant them to trenches 3 to 4 inches deep and two feet apart. Space the seedlings 8 to 10 inches apart.
Celery will be bitter if it isn't blanched. Blanching is achieved by covering the plants to protect them from the sun. As the plants grow, pile soil up around them to blanch the stems. Having the plants fairly close together will also help blanching.
The time from planting transplants to harvest is 100 to 130 days. Start harvesting before the first hard frost, when the head is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter at the base. Cut off the head at or slightly below soil level.
Types of Celery
The varieties of celery available to home vegetable gardeners offer choices in color and harvest times. We've listed the different varieties of celery below.
- Summer Pascal, harvest at 115 days, is medium green in color and is slow-bolting.
- Utah 52-70, harvest at 125 days, is the standard thick-stalked variety.
- Giant Gilded, harvest at 98 days, is pale golden yellow.
- Rosso di Torino, harvest at 95 days, is red.