By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Learning how to harvest celery is a worthwhile goal if you have been able to grow this somewhat difficult crop to maturity. Harvesting celery that is the right color and texture and properly bunched speaks to your green thumb abilities.
When to Harvest Celery
The time for picking celery is usually after it has been planted for three to five months and should happen before temperatures soar. Normally, the time to harvest for celery is 85 to 120 days after transplant. Time of planting of the crop will dictate the time to harvest for celery.
Harvesting celery should be done before hot temperatures occur outside as this can make the celery woody if not well watered. Celery harvest at the right time is important to prevent pithiness, yellowing leaves or the plant going to seed or bolting. The leaves need sunlight, but stalks need shade to remain white, sweet and tender. This is normally done through a process called blanching.
How to Harvest Celery
Picking celery should begin when the petioles (bottom stalks) are at least 6 inches long, from ground level to the first node. The stalks should still be close together, forming a compact bunch or cone at the proper height for harvesting celery. Upper stalks should reach 18 to 24 inches in height and 3 inches in diameter when they are ready for harvest.
Picking celery can also include the harvest of the leaves for use as a flavoring in soups and stews. A few plants can be left to flower or go to seed, for the harvest of celery seeds for use in recipes and the planting of future crops.
Harvesting celery is most easily done by cutting the stalks below where they are joined together. When picking celery leaves, they are most easily removed by a sharp cut as well.