When to grow celery?
Celery is a cool-season plant in regions with mild winters. It is an excellent addition to the herb garden. Although different from the one you get from the store, home-grown celery is tasty and very aromatic. Here is how to grow celery in central Texas.
Should you grow celery from seed or transplant?
Growing celery from seed might be tempting with all the varieties available nowadays. However, it is not an easy process; therefore, here are some criteria to follow to help you decide.
- If you expect to harvest tons of celery to consume or share, you may be better off starting from seed. The packet holds many seeds that will save you some money.
- If growing celery for occasional use, buying transplants is the easiest route. A six-pack of celery transplants is not that expensive and will pay for itself quickly. Use the cut-and-come-again harvest technique for an endless supply of celery.
- It would help if you had some Patience to start celery seeds. They are a bit tricky to get them to germinate. It will take more than a month of care before they show up.
How to start celery seeds?
Celery seeds are tiny, so you need to handle them with care and a sharp eye.
- Start seeds around August for fall planting.
- Use a shallow container or seed starting cells with drainage holes.
- Fill the containers with a premoistened good quality seed-starting mix.
- Sprinkle the seeds with care, keeping space in between.
- Celery seeds need light to germinate, so do not cover them with soil.
- Water well then place under grow-light.
- Keep the temperatures even 70F-75F (20C-23C)
- Be patient. It will take about 7 to 8 weeks before they emerge.
When to transplant celery?
The seedling should be about two inches high before plating out if you start from seeds. Then, before transplanting, you should harden them off and get them acclimated to the natural elements.
Celery is a cool-season plant. In central Texas, it grows from fall till spring. Plant out as soon as the temperature is stable at 75F (25C) or below. Exposure to warmer temperatures will cause it to bolt (flower) and taste bitter.
What soil type does celery need?
Celery requires a well-draining soil rich in organic matter. It also needs a balanced pH ranging between 6 and 8.
How much sun does celery need?
When planting celery, choose an area with full sun for optimum growth. Even though celery is a herb, it still needs more sun than its peers to make good-looking stalks. Provide no less than six hours of direct sunlight, and you will be pleased with the result.
Spacing celery plants
Plant celery 10 inches (25 cm) apart. Having them close to each other will shade the surrounding ground of each plant, discouraging weed growth and allowing self-bleaching.
How much water does celery need?
Since celery grows in the cool season, rainfall may provide enough water. However, central Texas does go through frequent droughts, so you may need to supplement it with extra irrigation. Water celery deeply twice a week to avoid any drought-related stress. Mulch celery beds well to retain moisture.
Does celery need fertilizing?
Amend the soil with compost or slow-release organic fertilizer before planting. Also, side dress with some compost, dry fertilizer or even coffee grinds during the growing.
Blanching is the process of blocking the sun from certain parts of a plant to stop photosynthesis to get more white parts of the given crop. It is primarily useful on celery, leeks, and cauliflower.
To blanch celery stalks hill the plant with soil as they grow. Some celery varieties are self-bleaching and do not require covering their stems, such as Galaxy, Tango, and Loretta.
It is helpful to tie the celery stalks together to keep them neatly bundled,
Store-bought celery is lighter in color because it is grown in greenhouses, and kept away from the intense sun.
When and how to harvest celery?
You can harvest celery whenever you wish; just cut from the outer layers, keeping the plant intact. To get thicker stalks, allow the plant to reach its final size. The bundle should be firm and sturdy. Do not allow the flower stalk to form that may cause induce bitterness. When harvesting the whole plant, use a clean, sharp knife and cut it at the base.
How to store celery?
There are different ways to store celery after harvest. Before storing, clean thoroughly to get all the hidden dirt out.
How to clean celery?
- Cut it into desired pieces.
- Submerge them in cold water for a few minutes to allow the dirt to sink.
- Scoop the celery pieces with your hands or a slotted spoon.
- Drain well before storing.
How to store celery?
Depending on what you intend to use your harvested for, there are a few different ways to store it for future use.
- Make celery powder/ salt by drying the leaves and young stalk. Then grind them into a powder. You may add salt to the powder to make celery salt.
- Fill up zip bags or food saver bags and shut them airtight. They can keep in the freezer for a year. Of course, they won’t keep the crunch, but they still make great soups.
- Some people also preserve celery by canning.
- You can also make cream of celery soup. It comes in handy for many crockpot recipes or just by itself.
Nutritional value of celery
One of grandma’s remedies for heartburn was munching on a celery stalk, for it has an alkalizing effect on our bodies due to its richness in minerals such as magnesium. It is also a salt substitute for low sodium diets for its sodium content. But the most well-known use for celery is cleansing drinks and soups for weight loss. Read more here.