Best grown in-home or personal garden situations, celery, a favorite 12 to 18-inch stalk vegetable is one of the most widely-produced commercial crops.
For this reason, gardening and harvesting your own organic vegetables makes it cheaper, tastier, as well as chemical-free.
Here are a few tips on how to cultivate celery for yourself as well as the benefits of having it in your garden.
How Long Does it Take for Celery to Grow?
On average, the growth cycle takes 125 days or approximately 16 weeks.
This vegetable requires cool weather and rich, fertile soil with organic matter mixed in. It requires a lot of nutrients and a constant water supply.
Growing from Seed
If growing from seeds, celery will need to be started indoors and transplanted when the weather permits for best results.
To give your plant the best start, you should recognize that germination will require a minimum of four weeks. It should be started at least ten weeks before wanting to transplant.
Ambient temperatures in the low 70’s during the day and 60’s at night, along with fluorescent light help seedlings. Sunlight and similarly cool spring weather will be required to grow this vegetable once transplanted.
Starting from seeds is not the only option to abbreviate the growth period.
Growing from Cuttings
Growing celery from the stalk base you are about to toss is possible, whether bought from a grocery store or grown initially by you.
You need to separate the stub section, removing all stalks and leaving at least an inch up between the base and the stalks.
This will produce a short bottom that looks a bit like a flower, and this will become the base of a new stalk.
Ensure you thoroughly rinse this base, and then place in a pot with water that is about midway up the bottom when it is placed in. Put this pot in a bright sunny spot, and refill the water as needed.
This new plant will absorb a lot of water in the first few days, so it is critical you check on it regularly. Once new shoots become visible, you are free to transplant.
Cover the new base thoroughly with nutrient-rich soil. Soil should cover the base entirely, leaving just the shoots sticking out.
Imagine recycling your plants for a continuous crop of new vegetables. The ability to regrow year-round is both cost-effective and healthy.
Growing in Pots
Celery can quickly be grown in pots if you follow a couple of rules of thumb. Ensure the width of the container is at least 12 inches and up, this allows enough growth space.
Additionally, watch the water levels, and this moisture intensity should be taken into consideration when selecting the pot you might use. Also, use a mixture of half soil and half organic compost.
When growing in containers, note that it does best in heavy-nutrient soil. However, beware that the soil not able to drain sufficiently could lead to fungus damaging these seedlings.
How to Grow it Indoors
It can quickly be grown entirely indoors with a few little tips. Ensure you have good seed starters, should you not be growing them from existing bases.
Anything you use for storage indoors should contain the ability for natural drainage, and copious amounts of water. Remember, it will require a good nutrient blended soil, and prefers to be shallowly planted.
You must have them someplace in the early stages, with temperatures kept reasonably consistent between 50 and 65 degrees.
Should you wish to keep pests off plants, there are many simple and effective home remedies that can help protect this edible vegetable.
When growing indoors, do not set and forget it, but check on it regularly. It requires consistent temperatures and lots of water.
Celery Companion Plants
Companion planting is a method of organic gardening, which allows the placement of supportive plants together to promote growth.
Celery, for instance, helps defend cabbage plants, in that the strong odor of it repulses the cabbage butterfly.
Additionally, herbs such as thyme, sage, basil, and the like can attract pollinators but repel insect pests. These taller herbs can also provide shade to help protect and give the cooler temperature effect in which celery thrives.
On the flip side, avoid parsley, parsnips, carrots, or turnips near the plant as they share a desire for the same nutrients.
Pest and Diseases
Keeping a close eye on leaf, stalk, or overall plant health is critical.
From browning leaves, leaves curling under, or holes in the plant, all can point to active pests. Any areas of concern should be swiftly addressed to minimize plant loss.
Additionally, the plant can be afflicted by downy mildew, which is a fungus that yellows leaves and leaves lesions on the plants. Other concerns such as mosaic and soft rot can create soft wounds around the base.
Due to the substantial amount of water it needs to grow, the fungus is a common problem. Diligence in watching for signs, rotation of plants can help control these concerns for your celery.
Read more on how to control plant diseases naturally.
How to Harvest
Harvesting should be done when the stalk is about 8 inches long. Harvesting is done by cutting it free from the base, below the soil line.
Remember, you can also harvest it slowly by collecting the most extended outside stalks as required.
These outer stalks are stout in nutrients and especially excellent for cooking. Additionally, by culling out these outer stalks, new stalks can be grown on the same base.
To gather seeds, ensure you leave the center stalks to grow throughout an entire season.
At the end of a two-year cycle or when flower stalks appear on your bases, pull the base out, and gather seeds for the next crop.
Obviously, after putting so much time into planting, cultivating, and harvesting celery, you are now worried about keeping it crisp for eating.
The best tip is to remove the base and take all leaves off. Now with just the stalks, cut it in half.
Fill a bowl with water, and submerge it in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.
Change the water at least once a day to keep it at the peak of freshness.
One cup of diced, raw celery contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C – 4% DV
- Calcium – 4% DV
- Potassium – 6% DV
- Magnesium – 3% DV
- Fiber – 5% DV
- Vitamin B6 – 4% DV
- Vitamin K – 33% DV
- Folate – 9% DV
- Manganese – 4% DV
- Vitamin B2 – 5% DV
- Copper – 4% DV
- Phosphorus – 3% DV
- Vitamin A – 3% DV
- Molybdenum – 11% DV
- Pantothenic acid – 5% DV
This vegetable is rich with enzymes and boasts a plethora of other health benefits.
It contains anti-inflammatory and alkalizing properties, balances blood sugar levels, repairs liver damages, and helps prevent dehydration.
Additional benefits of celery juice are highlighted in the nutrition section above.
Celery may appear at first to be a stubborn and challenging vegetable to grow yourself. But, with little diligence, cool climate, lots of water, and direct sunlight, this vegetable is relatively simple to produce.
The ability to recycle stalks to grow new plants makes this a perennial vegetable that can be sustainable, cost-effective, healthy, and a must-have for your garden.
Thinking ahead to all the snack ideas, salads, and recipes you can produce with this flavorful veggie from your garden is a good use of time to harvest for this vegetable.