Celery is a health food rich in vitamins and minerals. Not only does it taste great, it is also considered a zero calorie snack as you lose calories while munching it. While it takes some effort to grow, harvesting your own celery is its own reward.
Celery is a biennial plant that is usually grown as an annual. There are many varieties of celery, with two basic types: Self-Blanching and Blanching. Celery grows in most climates, but it prefers cool temperate weather with no hot and dry summers. It grows best in fertile soil with good drainage and constant moisture.
If you want to plant your own celery, you can buy seeds from seed catalogues, the internet, gardening stores, or ask for seeds from someone who grew celery the previous year.
Celery seeds are finicky and take a long time to grow. These should be planted indoors about ten weeks before the growing season. You can soak the seeds overnight to hasten germination. Plant them in covered containers to keep the moisture in, with only a few seeds per pot. Some people prefer to buy germinated seedlings ready for transplant.
Seedlings that are 4-6 inches tall can be transplanted outdoors. Make sure that the night temperature is not below 40 F so that there is no danger of frost.
The Self Blanching varieties can be grown directly in flat soil without trenches. However, they are less hardy and should be grown and harvested before any risk of frost.
For the Blanching varieties, trenches must be constructed before the planting season. You need to prepare a trench 18 inches deep, with about the same width.
Make holes one foot apart at the bottom of the trench and plant the seedlings. Your celery will grow best if you fill half of your trench with compost and rotted manure, leaves and scraps. If you don’t want to exert the additional effort, fill half of the trench with water to make sure that the roots are in firmly. A water-soluble high-nitrogen fertilizer will hasten growth.
During very dry weather, you need to soak the trenches regularly to keep the plants from drying out. After the first month, use a liquid organic feed every ten days. Remove weeds regularly. When the plants are about one foot high, begin to earth them up. Do this again after three weeks to make sure that the earth does not cover the plants.
When the celery stalks are white, usually after eight weeks from the first “earthing” up, you are ready to harvest. Enjoy your fresh crispy celery!