By Heather Rhoades
Growing celery (Apium graveolens) is generally considered to be the ultimate vegetable gardening challenge. It has a very long growing season but a very low tolerance for both heat and cold. There is not much flavor difference between the home grown variety and the store bought variety so most gardeners grow a celery plant purely for the challenge it poses. Read on to find out more about the best way to grow celery in your garden.
Starting Celery Seeds
Because a celery plant has such a long maturity time, unless you live in a location with long growing seasons, you need to start celery seeds indoors at least 8 – 10 weeks before the last frost date for your area.
Celery seeds are tiny and tricky to plant. Try mixing them with sand and then sprinkling the sand/seed mix over the pots you will be starting the celery plants in. Cover the seeds with just a little bit of soil. Celery seeds like to be planted shallowly.
Once the celery seeds have sprouted and are large enough, either thin the seedlings or prick them out to their own pots.
Planting Celery in the Garden
Once the temperatures outside are consistently above 50 F., you can plant your celery into your garden. Remember that celery is very temperature sensitive, so don’t plant it out too early or you will kill or weaken the celery plant.
Unless you live in a location that is ideal to grow celery plants, you are best planting your celery where it will get 6 hours of sun, but preferably somewhere that the celery plant will be shaded for the hottest part of the day.
Also, make sure that where you will be growing celery has rich soil. Celery needs lots of nutrients to grow well.
Grow Celery in Your Garden
A growing celery plant needs a lot of water. Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist and do not forget to water them. Celery can not tolerate drought of any kind. If the ground is not kept consistently moist, it will negatively affect the taste of the celery.
You will also need to fertilize regularly to keep up with the nutrient needs of the celery plant.
Many gardeners prefer to blanch their celery to make them more tender, but be aware that when blanching celery, you are reducing the amount of vitamins in the celery plant. Blanching celery turns the green part of the plant white.
Blanching celery is done one of two ways. The first way is to just slowly build a mound around a growing celery plant. Every few days add a little more dirt and at harvest the celery plant will be blanched.
The other method is to cover the lower half of the celery plant with thick brown paper or cardboard a few weeks before you plan to harvest the celery.
Now that you know how to grow celery, you can give it a try in your own garden. We can’t guarantee that you will be able to grow celery successfully, but at least you can say you tried growing celery.