Often considered a crop for experienced gardeners, celery is not difficult to grow at home. Moreover, gardening and harvesting your own organic celery makes it cheaper and healthier.
Below are a few tips on how to plant celery. We’ll also discuss its benefits.
How Long Does it Take for Celery to Grow?
On average, the growth cycle takes 130 to 140 days from seed to harvesting stage. However, growing from cuttings may take less time to reach maturity.
This vegetable requires cool weather and rich, fertile soil to thrive. It also requires a lot of nutrients and plenty of water.
Growing from Seeds
If growing celery from seeds, you will need to start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost.
Germination takes 2 to 3 weeks. However, to speed up the process, soak the seeds overnight in warm water before planting.
Additionally, the seeds need ample light to grow, so sow them on top of your starting mix and lightly cover them with a fine layer of potting soil. You can also give them some overhead light.
Water lightly so you don’t wash away the seeds. The seeds also need warmth to germinate. Therefore, place the container on your windowsill if it’s still cold.
Keep the soil moist and thin out the seedlings or transplant them when they are large enough.
Growing from Scraps
Growing celery from the stalk base you are about to toss is possible.
Separate the stub section (root end), removing all stalks, leaving at least an inch up between the base and the stalks.
This will leave a short bottom that looks a bit like a flower; however, this will become the base of a new plant.
Ensure you thoroughly rinse this base. Next, place it in a bowl with water that is about midway up the root end when it is placed in. Afterward, put the bowl in a bright sunny spot and refill the water as needed.
Read more on growing plants in water.
This new plant will absorb a lot of water in the first few days, so it is vital that you check on it regularly. Also, change the water regularly as it may become stagnant.
To prevent rot, use toothpicks to stick around the sides. This will keep the celery from touching the bottom of the bowl.
Image credit: allrecipes.com
Once new shoots become visible, you are free to transplant. Cover the new base thoroughly with nutrient-rich soil. The soil should also cover the base entirely, leaving just the shoots sticking out.
Growing in Pots
Celery can quickly be grown in pots if you follow a couple of rules of thumb. Ensure the container is at least 8 inches deep.
Additionally, watch the water levels, and this moisture intensity should be taken into consideration when selecting the pot you might use. A plastic container is best as terracotta or unglazed clay pots tend to dry out quickly.
Use a mixture of half soil and half organic compost and mulch around the plant to keep the soil moist and cool.
When growing in containers, note that celery needs a lot of water (1 to 1.5 inches per week). However, ensure that the soil is still draining, but not too quickly.
Finally, place the pot on your balcony or at a spot where it gets 6-8 hours of full sun per day.
How to Grow it Indoors
It can quickly be grown entirely indoors with a few little tips. Ensure you have good seed starters if not growing them from existing bases.
Anything you use for planting indoors should have the ability for natural drainage and still be able to retain plenty of water. Also, remember celery will require a good amount of nutrients and prefers to be shallowly planted.
Along with regular watering, giving a dose of compost tea once per week will give it that needed boost to thrive properly.
Additionally, remember too that the plant needs close to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Therefore, if you do not have sufficient light where the container is, place fluorescent or LED light near to the plant.
Should you wish to keep pests off plants, there are many simple and effective home remedies that can help protect this vegetable from pests.
Celery Companion Plants
Companion planting allows the placement of certain plants together to promote the growth of each other.
Herbs such as thyme, sage, mint, dill, oregano, and rosemary grow well with celery. Additionally, vegetables such as garlic, onions, leeks, beans, cabbages, radishes, cauliflower, and broccoli are great companion plants for celery.
Moreover, flowers like nasturtiums, marigolds, cosmos, and daisies make great companions as well.
On the flip side, avoid putting parsley, parsnips, carrots, turnips, and potatoes near celery as they share a desire for the same nutrients and moisture.
Pest and Diseases
When growing outside, early in the growth cycle, covering the plants with row covers is essential to stave off pests such as aphids, cutworms, leafminers, and the carrot fly.
Keeping a close eye on the leaf, stalk, and other plant parts is crucial. From browning leaves, leaves curling, or holes in the plant, all can point to active pests.
Additionally, the plant can be afflicted by pink rot, leaf blight diseases, mosaic virus, bacterial soft rot, and Fusarium yellows and wilt diseases. Diligence in watching for signs and the rotation of plants can help control these concerns.
Read more on how to control plant diseases naturally.
How to Harvest
Harvesting should be done when the outer stalks are about 8 inches long. Harvesting is done by cutting them free from the base, leaving the inner stalks to continue growing.
To gather seeds, leave the plant to grow beyond the harvesting period when it begins to bolt. when seeds start to appear, stop watering the plant, allowing it to become dry.
Next, remove the plant from your garden bed and tap the flowers over a container to gather and save the seeds for the next crop.
Obviously, after putting so much time into planting, cultivating, and harvesting celery, you are now worried about keeping it fresh.
The best tip is to store the stalks in a container of water and place it in the refrigerator.
To keep celery fresh in the fridge, fill a bowl with water and submerge the stalks in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.
Alternatively, keep the heads whole and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil before placing them in the refrigerator crisper drawer.
Nutrients in Celery
Celery benefits the body in many ways. One cup (100g) of raw celery contains the following nutrients :
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin A
Juicing enhances the absorption of nutrients. The celery vegetable supports digestion and has high water and fiber content.
It also contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and may help balance blood sugar levels . Additional benefits are highlighted in the celery nutrition section above.
Celery may appear at first to be a stubborn and challenging vegetable to grow yourself. But, with little diligence, a cool climate, lots of water, and direct sunlight, this vegetable is relatively simple to cultivate.
Moreover, the ability to regrow celery from stalks into new plants makes it sustainable, healthy, and a must-have vegetable for your garden.