All about Celery and How to Grow it
Growing celery in your home garden can be very beneficial for you. First of all, you will be able to make your soups and salads taste more delicious. Moreover, growing it at home will give you pesticide-free celery because it is planted organically. In addition, it also tastes better than the store bought ones because it is fresher. But, to get all those benefits, you must know how to grow celery.
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Getting to Know More about Celery
If you never grow this vegetable before, you must not only find out the method of how to grow celery. But, you must also find out more information about it. This information will help you understand the plant better. Therefore, you will be able to plant this vegetable without any problems. These are some of the things you need to know about celery.
1. Origin and History of Celery
It is believed that celery or Apium graveolens is indigenous to Mediterranean areas and Middle East. Thousands of years ago, it grew wild on these areas. Later on, people in ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome started to cultivate it.
People in these different ancient regions used this vegetable differently. Egyptians used celery leaves and other plants to create garlands. These garlands were found in the Tutankhamen’s tomb. Meanwhile, ancient Greeks used it as medicinal herbs.
This vegetable then was spread to Italy and France in the 16th century. After that, these two countries introduced this vegetable in the 17th century. Then, the Americans started to cultivate this vegetable in the 19th century.
2. Plant Description
Celery is a biennial plant that is treated as an annual plant. This marshland plant has leaves with unique shapes. They are medium size; with thier maximum size is 6 cm long and 4 cm wide. The stalks of this plant are ribbed and fibrous. They can grow pretty tall, up to a meter.
This vegetable plant has small white flowers that bloom in groups. These clusters look like tiny umbrellas. Once they are dry, you can harvest the seeds. But, once the plant goes to seed, you can no longer have celery stalks and leaves. The leaves usually taste bitter and the stalks are hard.
Gardeners usually will be able to harvest the celery in about 16 weeks. Therefore, if you perform the right steps of how to plant celery, you’ll get your crunchy celery by that time. Unfortunately, some beginners grow it at the wrong time. Therefore, they get bolting celery.
Bolting happens when the plant blooms too early. Bolting usually occurs when the temperature is hotter or the day is longer. Many gardeners try to avoid bolting. However, if you want to get some celery seeds, you can let your celery plants go to seed. Therefore, you can get celery seeds to plant next year.
There are several ways to avoid bolting. One of them is planting celery at the right time. If you live in cooler region, it is best to plant it in early spring. But, if you live in warmer region, the best to plant it is between late fall and early winter. Moreover, you can use row cover or pinch off the flowers in order to avoid it.
3. Growing Environment for Celery
If you want a nice harvest of celery, you need to know the right growing environment for this plant. Therefore, you will be able to prepare the planting spot before you start the planting process. These are what you need to know about the requirements to grow celery.
Celery grows well in cool weather. The temperature of the environment must be between 15o C and 23o C. However, it can be planted in wide range of hardiness zones, i.e. from zones 2 to 10. But, you need to start the process of how to grow celery at the recommended time.
This plant cannot tolerate hot weather. This kind of weather can make it blooms too early. Moreover, it also causes them to suffer from diseases and pests easier. And if the weather is pretty extreme, this plant will die.
This particular vegetable plant prefers partially shaded area to thrive. For better result, you need to grow them in area with 6 hours of light or less. If you do not have this kind of planting spot, you don’t need to worry. You can use row cover to protect your celery plants from the heat and sun.
This vegetable plant is greedy. Therefore, you need to make sure that the soil in your planting spot is rich in organic matter. If it is not, you have to mix it with compost or aged manure at the early process of how to grow celery. In addition, you also need to add certain amount of fertilizer during its growing season.
Another thing you need to do is doing a soil test. It is important to make sure that the soil is neutral. Its pH level must be between 5.8 and 6.8. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, you need to adjust it before planting celery.
Celery requires constant watering. Therefore, you need to make sure that you water your celery plants regularly. It is important not to let the soil dry. Celery plants which do not get enough water will have hollow stalk or stringy and tough stalks. However, you need to make sure that the soil has good drainage.
In North America, celery leaf stalks or petioles are used in several cooking, such as salads and braised celery. People in this country even love to snack on raw crunchy celery stalk. Meanwhile, celery leaves have stronger aroma. As a result, it is used less often. However, it is usually used in soups.
Moreover, celery root is alsi useful in cooking. It can be added in soups and salads. Meanwhile, celery seeds are processed into essential oil. This particular oil then is used in perfume industry.
4. Companion Plants
Before you start the process of how to grow celery, you need to plant what plants to grow along with this vegetable. Celery will not grow well if you grow the wrong plant near it. Therefore, you must plant celery with the best companion plants for it. Some of them are onions, spinach, cabbage family, leeks, tomatoes, and beans.
Those vegetable plants can be planted at the same bed with celery. All of them will get the benefits from the celery scent. Moreover, celery can also be planted with flowering plants. The best flowers to grow with celery are daisies, cosmos, and snapdragon. Meanwhile, celery must not be planted at the same bed with corn, aster, and Irish potato.
There are three types of celery that you can grow. Each of them has slightly different characteristics. Therefore, you need to learn more about them before you perform the steps of how to grow celery. These are the three of them.
It is the most common celery type that is planted in the U.S. It can be planted in the USDA hardiness zones 2 to 10. It thrives in cool environment. Moreover, it takes 105 to 130 days to mature. Some of the paschal varieties are Monterey, Conquistador, Tall Utah, and Golden Boy.
Monterey and Conquistador are considered as early maturing varieties. Meanwhile, Tall Utah produces long stalk. In addition Golden Boy produces short stalks
This type of celery plant is planted for its root. This root is light brown and round. In addition, it has knobby root. It takes about 100 days to 120 days to mature. Moreover, it can be planted in USDA hardiness zone 8 and 9. Celeriac prefers full sun to thrive. Some celeriac varieties that you can grow are Giant Prague, Diamante, and Brilliant.
This particular type of celery is planted for its leaves. The stalk of this plant is smaller than Pascal. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 5a to 8b. Moreover, it requires part to full sun. This type of celery takes about 80 days to mature. Some of the varieties of leaf celery are Flora 55, Par Cel, and Safir.
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How to Grow Celery
Celery can be planted from seeds and from stalk. Those two methods, of course, require different steps of how to grow celery. These are what you need to do.
1. How to Grow Celery from Seeds
Planting celery from seeds has its advantage and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that it allows you to choose wide varieties of celery. However, it takes more time to grow it. Once you get the seed, you can do these steps.
It is recommended to germinate celery seeds indoor due to its long growing season. If you plan to transplant the seedlings in the spring, you must germinate the seeds 10 weeks before the last spring frost. Meanwhile, if you plan to transplant the seedlings in the fall, you need to germinate the seeds 10 weeks before fall frost date.
In this process, you need a seeding tray, seed starting mix, and plastic wrap. In addition, you also need to soak the seeds in water, preferably warm water for a night. If you do it, the seeds will germinate more quickly.
Fill the seeding tray with the soil. After that, place the seeds on the soil and press them a little. You don’t need to sprinkle them with soil. Spray the soil to add some moisture in it. After that, cover the seeding tray with a plastic wrap. You will likely see the seeds germinate in 7 days or so.
When it happens, remove the cover. After the seedlings emerge, use flourescent grow light to light them. Place the light 3 inches above the seedlings and turn it on for 16 hours. Moreover, you need to moist the soil regularly and keep the temperature cool.
Before you transplant the seedlings, you need to prepare the planting site. If you live in cooler area, it is okay to choose a planting site with full sun. But, if you live in warmer area, you had better choose a partially shaded area. It is important to loosen the soil before planting, about 12 inches deep and mix it with compost and aged manure.
Transplanting The Seedling
You can transplant the seedlings when they are 2 inches tall. Before you transplant them, it is recommended to harden them first for two days. You can do it by placing the tray outdoor and lessen the amount of water. Moreover, you need to make sure that the temperature of the soil is at least 10oC and the night temperature is at least 5oC.
If the temperature is too cool, your celery will suffer from bolting. Moreover, when planting the seedlings, you need to give 8 inches space between them. After planting them, you must water the plants thoroughly.
Celery plants require lots of water, especially in hot weather. Moreover, in the second month, you need to add 5-10-10 fertilizer in the soil. Sprinkle a tablespoon of fertilizer around a plant and add a thin layer of soil after that. In fertilizing the plant, you need to make sure that it is 4 inches from the plant.
Moreover, it is important to remove weed from the celery bed. It is also essential to protect the plants with a row cover for the first six weeks. This will protect the plant from flea beetles, downy mildew, and earwigs.
You can harvest celery stalk after the plant is mature enough. Some gardeners choose to harvest the stalks that are about 8 inches tall. In harvesting, it is important to do it from the outside in. Keep harvesting the stalks even if you don’t need them. It will prevent the plant from bolting.
2. How to Grow Celery from Stalk
Growing celery from stalk can be fun. However, you cannot have many choices of celery variety in doing it. To grow celery stalk, you need a bunch of celery, water, and a jar. Once you get them ready, you can follow these steps.
- Cut the bunch of celery 2 inches from the base using a sharp and clean knife.
- Fill the jar with water.
- Place the celery bottom in the jar.
- Put the bowl near a window.
- The bottoms of the celery will start to sprout in two or three days
- Change the water every two days
- Once the celery grows about two or three inches, you can transplant the celery bottom in the ground.
- To prepare the planting site and take care of the plant you can follow the methods above.
Planting celery from seeds and from stalks has their own benefits. If you choose the later, you can also grow the stalk in a pot filled with potting soil. Whichever the method you choose, you will get crunchy celery stalks in the end.
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