Celery is one the most popular vegetables used in colder climate areas of the world. Being rich in low calorie dietary fiber it is often used in weight-loss diet. Celery might seem like an easy plant to grow, but the opposite is true. A lot of care and attention needs to be dedicated to this vegetable in order to achieve the positive results.
Steps involved in growing Celery
Selecting the site & Season
Since celery likes cool weather, avoid planting it when temperature is above 65°F. Celery strictly requires at least 4 months of relatively cold and cloudy growing period. The suitable soil for celery cultivation should be rich in compost, water retentive but still should have a proper drainage.
Start growing celery by sowing seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks prior the last frost in spring. When seedlings have around 6 leaves, it should take around 6 weeks to reach this point, plant them outdoors. In the areas with cool spring and summer months, plant celery seedlings in early spring. In the areas with warm spring and summer, plant them in late summer to harvest the celery in late autumn or early winter.
When sowing seeds, put them ¼ to ½ inch deep in the soil and keep a 6 to 10 inches space between each of them. If sowing into rows, a gap of 24 inches should be left between each two rows. Seedlings should be transplanted into trenches around 4 inches deep and 8 inches apart. Do not forget to add quality compost to planting beds before you take celery outside.
Celery should be watered well and frequently during its whole growing period. Not enough of water will result in celery’s slow growth. Apart from feeding when planting the celery, compost should be added also at mid growing season every 2 to 3 weeks. Celery beds should be kept weed free all the time so the celery can get as much moisture and nutrients as possible. While getting rid of weed, make sure you do not damage celery roots.
Blanch celery by covering the stalks with soil or paper cylinders. This helps stalks to produce chlorophyll so they can turn green. Blanching will result in loosing bitter flavor and obtaining sweet flavored and whiten stalks. Blanching should be carried out up to around 12 days before harvesting.
It takes about 110 to 130 days for celery to mature. Crop should be harvested before the first serious frost in fall. At this point, celery head is about three inches in diameter at its base and is about a foot high. Proper way to harvest celery heads is to cut them off right at the soil level. Wash the stalks thoroughly in cold water and let them dry.
Fresh celery can be stored in refrigerator for about two weeks. During this time, celery will blanch naturally. If you want to keep your celery for longer period of time, it should be dried or frozen. Celery seeds and leaves can be used as a herb.