Celery is a cool-season crop half-hardy to frost and light freezes. Celery has a fairly long growing season and has little tolerance for temperatures that are either too high or too low. Most gardeners grow celery purely for the challenge it presents in growing some in your back yard.
Where to grow Celery
Celery can be grown anywhere with a long/steady cool growing season with sufficient rainfall and moderate climate.
Recommended Varieties of Celery
There are two basic types of celery: Self-blanching and blanching. Self Blanching varieties are much easier to grow, as they can be grown in flat soil without trenches. Their harvest, however, is earlier and more limited. For celery that needs blanching, (1) plant in the center of 18″ wide trenches, (2) remove suckers mid-season and wrap each stalk bunches with brown paper, newspaper, or cardboard to prevent soil from getting between the stalks, (3) fill the trench with soil up to the bottom of the leaves 2 months before the harvest, and (4) keep mounding the soil around the base of the plant every 3 weeks. Make sure the mound is sloped to help drainage.
Golden Self-blanching; Summer Pascal;
Soil for Celery
More than climate, the soil quality will determine whether it is practical to grow celery. Farmers used to consider river-bottom muck soils “celery soil”. That is what celery needs – highly fertile soil well enriched with compost, well-rotted manure, and peat moss. The crop needs moisture consistently, as well as high quantities of nutrients for fast growth.
|Germination||60 - 70 F|
|For Growth||60 - 65 F, with nights >40 F|
|Soil and Water|
|Fertilizer||Heavy feeder; 2-3 weeks before planting, apply compost worked 12" into soil.|
|Side-dressing||Apply every 2 weeks|
|pH||6.0 - 7.0|
|Seed Planting Depth||1/4 - 1/2"|
|Root Depth||< 6 - 12"
|Height||15 - 18"|
|Width||8 - 12"|
|Space between plants|
|In Beds||6 - 8"|
|In Rows||8 - 12"|
|Space Between Rows||18 - 36"|
|Average plants per person||3 - 8|
|Harvest self blanching celery before first frost. Harvest blanched varieties after first frost. Dig out each plant whenever needed.|
|First Seed Starting Date:||61 - 70 days before last frost date|
|Last Seed Starting Date:||140 - 185 Days before first frost date|
|Companions||all beans, all brassicas, spinach, squash, tomato|
Germination in 2-3 weeks
Celery seed is usually started indoors about 10 weeks before it is time to set the plants outdoors – that is, after the soil is warm and the air temperature settled. The seed is minute and finicky and is started in much the same manner as African violet seed, in closed containers to keep seedlings moist. Soak seeds overnight to help germination. A simpler method is to buy transplants. Transplant seedlings outside when they are 4-6 inches tall and night temperatures don’t fall below 40F. Water plants before they are transplanted. Some gardeners who have a long frost-free autumn season can seed a late winter crop directly.
In rows 2 feet apart; with 6-8 inches between plants.
How Celery grows
Celery is a biennial that, if left for its second year would produce flowers and seed. It is harvested when immature.
|Celery is best stored at cold temperatures in a perforated plastic bag. To refresh wilted stalks, simply place them in a tall glass of cold water.|
|32 F||98 - 100%||2 - 3 months|
|32 F||80 - 90%||4 - 5 weeks|
When seedlings are set out they need a quick start, which is usually provided by watering the plants with a water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer. Since the plants have fine, almost hair-like roots, use a heavy mulch to keep down weeds.
Some gardeners and consumers blanch prefer a blanched celery. For those who want to experiment, select a few plants then wrap them from top to bottom with heavy paper, perhaps a brown paper bag from the grocery store cut to shape, and tied loosely with string. Only the top leaves should be allowed to shoot. Blanching should be done about 2 weeks before harvest. The resulting stalks will be markedly lighter in color(almost white) and are said to be sweeter and more tender after blanching.
Celery should be ready for harvest approximately 3 months after transplants are set out; 4 months from the day the seed was started. Cut plants at the base, just beneath the crown, with a sharp knife and remove some of the outer leaves. Celery will easily keep for several weeks if stored in a cool, dark place. It will keep well in the refrigerator if cut up and covered in water.
- Celery leaftier – Make two applications of pyrethrum dust 1 hour apart. The first application should drive tiers from their webs, the second should kill them.
- Celery worm – (larvae of the black swallowtail butterfly): Handpick
Diseases for Celery
- Early/Late blight – Buy quality seed and transplants; clean up the garden after each crop is harvested