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Tue Dec 20, 2011, 11:43 AM

Celery

Hello - I would like to grow celery this year and was wondering if anyone had advice. I have heard that the leaves are just as good for cooking as the stalks. Should I look for a plant or can I start from seed? How hardy is it?

Thanks!

Tracy

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Response to momto3 (Original post)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 12:36 PM

1. Seeds take forever to grow and get anywhere. They're tiny when they sprout.

They're also kind of fussy about the sprouting conditions -- the do best with a wide swing in day/night soil temps and a period of either long or short days, but can't remember exactly.

I'd suggest transplants the first year.

If you buy them with multiple plants in a cell, which is common, you should separate and plant out individually. If they're crowded, they tend to make small plants with small stalk size.

The main thing for success is rich, evenly moist soil. Celery does really well in pots, too, in fact, I often think its better because you can use good potting mix and control the watering and fertilizing.

It's hardy to about 27/28 degrees with minimal damage, so takes a decent freeze.

There is also "cutting celery" which is more hardy -- its the wild ancestor of celery, without the thick stalks. Looks more like flat leaved parsley, but has a strong celery flavor. That one overwinters for me in Michigan, and goes to seed the next year, which is a good way to grow your own celery seed.

It's also a slow crop -- I buy plants in early May, plant out mid-late May after keeping them in my greenhouse a few weeks to put on some size, and they generally start looking like a grocery store celery around Labor Day. Before that, smaller and thin, but I still pull individual stalks for cooking.

I still have about 6 heads in my fridge in greenbags -- harvested them Thanksgiving weekend, which was actually extremely late, but we've had a really mild fall here, with hardly any deep freeezes. They should keep another 3-4 weeks.

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Response to Denninmi (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:57 PM

3. Thanks.

I will try to find plants. I have not seen any for sale before, but have not looked specifically for this. And, I think I will grow them in pots. Here in NC, I have nothing but red clay as soil. It takes a lot just to make it habitable for my usually garden plants.

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Response to momto3 (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 06:58 PM

4. You probably already know this, but good nurseries will have the plants at the right time of year

for your climate. I've grown celery from plants and seed and everything Denninmi wrote tracks with my experience. I'm in a cold Zone 9 area. Celery needs to be planted in the winter here and harvested late Spring or so. In winter we have a few frosts in the 25-30 degree range and it hasn't bothered the celery as long as the plants were well established and irrigated.

For me, planting seed in a tray indoors has been more productive than trying to direct seed them but buying a six pack was even easier. The heads were really wide, the stalks were dark green and far more flavorful than any supermarket celery. I clipped and dried the leaves too. Those are great additions to soups, casseroles, and braised dishes. I pulverize some to use in spice mixes for marinades and salad dressings



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Response to momto3 (Original post)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 11:00 AM

2. If you can find the plants, go for it. Celery has a REALLY long season and if you use seeds,....

 

...you'll probably have to start them indoors anyway. Make sure the soil is well worked and don't overdo the nitrogen. There are a shitload of insects that love celery and it tends to split and bolt in hot weather.

Another option is parcel, a type of parsley that tastes like celery. It grows very well in nearly any climate. Finding it might be difficult. It is sometimes called "clipping celery" or "clipping parsley", but you can container grow it and it will produce well. It freezes and dries well too. It is a biennial like parsley, but the second season tends to be a little tougher and bitter (also like parsley).

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Response to momto3 (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 10:18 PM

5. Don't know about growing, but leaves are GREAT for cooking;

I never throw them away, use them for soups/stews. Seem to have a bit more flavor/fragrance than the stalks.

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