Since organic celery tastes so much better than store-bought celery, many home gardeners choose to grow their own.
It’s a great addition to salads, soups, and stews, or you can eat it raw as a healthy alternative to chips. The key to achieving tasty, juicy, and nutritious celery is knowing how to grow them correctly.
When to plant celery? The best way to grow celery is to start the seeds indoors. Sow the seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost date for a spring crop. If you’re aiming for a fall crop, start the seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the first scheduled fall frost.
Planting Celery in Different Climates
Celery has a long growing season and will thrive more in cooler weather.
If you’re thinking of growing some in your garden, the first step should be figuring out what climate you’re in.
From there, it will be easy to find tips for growing celery in your region. Here are some you might want to keep in mind:
Growing garden celery in tropical climates can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Your best bet is to plant celery during the cooler months in your area. Also, plant them in a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight.
Celery needs plenty of water and rich soil, so it might not be a good idea to plant them in a dry climate.
Since celery thrives in temperatures that aren’t too high nor too low, it will grow well in a temperate climate. You will want to plant them in spring so that you’ll have mature celery ready for harvest from summer to fall.
Continental and Polar Climate
Celery doesn’t like extreme weather, so it will have difficulty surviving in these climates. You can try growing them indoors in a controlled climate, but it will most probably require more time and effort.
Choosing Which Variety to Grow
Generally speaking, you can categorize celery into three: pascal celery, celeriac celery, and leaf celery.
Pascal celery is the most common in the United States and is recognized for its thicker stalks.
It loves cooler weather and will thrive in areas where the temperatures stay within 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unlike pascal celery, celeriac celery or celery root is grown for its edible turnip-like roots and not for its stalks and leaves.
Lastly, there’s the leaf celery, which is also known as self-blanching celery. Due to its distinct flavor and aroma, you’ll often find it in spice-heavy Asian and European dishes.
However, compared to its counterparts, it should not be consumed raw.
When choosing which variety to grow, think about your preferences and the growing conditions in your area. Here are the most common varieties:
- Golden – This self-blanching variety becomes golden-yellow when fall hits. Usually, it takes around 105 days to mature.
- Tango Green – Like the Golden, this is another self-blanching variety. However, it only takes 80 days to fully mature and is the fastest-growing among the bunch.
- Ventura – If your area experiences hot weather, this is the variety that’s perfect for you. Even better, it matures quickly and will be ready for harvest in about 80 to 100 days.
- Red Ventura – As the name suggests, this variety has stems that are red on the inside. It will be mature enough for harvesting in approximately 84 days.
How To Plant Celery Seeds
Have a hard time choosing a variety to grow in your celery garden? Try visiting your local garden center and ask which celery grows best in your area.
Once you have the seeds, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Prepare the seeds.
Prepare a bowl of water and soak the celery seeds overnight. Celery seeds have a strong outer shell that can delay germination.
Allowing the seeds to soak for a good few hours will help speed up the process. After soaking, remove the seeds from the water.
Step 2: Start the seeds indoors.
When starting celery seeds, it’s a good idea to use individual containers or cell pots with good drainage at the bottom.
Also, celery loves nutrient-rich potting soil, so use a mixture of peat and compost. It’s also important that the soil doesn’t dry out quickly.
Fill each cell pot with enough soil mix and create a hole on each one using a stick or your finger.
Then, insert three seeds into the hole to guarantee at least one germinated seedling for each cell pot.
Cover the holes with more soil mix and gently press your finger on each one, ensuring you don’t push the seeds further down.
Water them deeply and cover with a piece of paper towel. Next, place the pot in an area where it’s exposed to sunlight.
It will also help to check soil temperatures, which should be around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Germination can take about two weeks, so it’s important that you water the seeds every other day to keep the soil moist.
Step 3: Prepare the soil.
Celery is a heavy feeder despite having shallow roots. That said, a mixture of 60% garden soil and 40% compost is ideal when growing this crop.
After starting indoors, you’ll need to transplant your celery seedlings into bigger pots or containers.
This way, you will have better water control, and you can also relocate them to a spot with a more suitable temperature or sunlight exposure.
The best pots to use are those at least eight inches deep. Also, there should be at least two inches of allowance from the rim of your pot to the soil surface.
Step 4: Transplanting the seedlings.
When your celery stalks grow to about two inches tall, you can start moving your young plants.
Do this by carefully removing the seedlings from your cell pots, making sure you do it as gently as possible because the stems are still thin and fragile.
To minimize transplant shock, ensure that the seedlings are undamaged, still moist, and well-intact.
Next, poke holes onto the potting soil and firmly plant the seedlings six to eight inches apart.
If you’ll plant in rows, make sure the rows are 24 to 36 inches apart. After transplanting your seedlings, water them thoroughly.
How To Water Celery
Celery has a shallow root system and is prone to stress. Observe if the soil is soaked enough to ensure that its roots receive the proper amount of water.
Watch out for dry soil because this is what makes celery acquire a more bitter taste. Lack of moisture will result in stringy, wrinkly, and split celery stalks.
Fortunately, watering your celery is a piece of cake. All you have to do is remember to give your celery garden at least one to two inches of water per week.
How To Grow Celery
Your compost-enriched soil will be in a more compact state over time.
When this happens, you must slightly dig up the upper layer to initiate better root formation.
Moreover, being heavy feeders, the soil must be made efficiently richer using organic fertilizer every two weeks.
Putting mulch is also encouraged for moisture retention and heat protection. Plastic row covers come in handy as celery attracts pests like slugs, flea beetles, earwigs, carrot rust flies, and more.
However, it’s worth noting that celery pests don’t occur as frequently as with other vegetables.
That said, do not forget to take out the weeds that may grow around the plant. These absorb the nutrients that your celery should be getting a solo.
Blanching celery could be an option weeks before harvest if you encounter a much bitter taste outside your preference.
This practice lessens the bitterness and improves its savory and sweet flavor. Blanching the stems also gives it a pale-green color, but make sure you don’t use this method on the leaves.
Growing Celery From Leftover Stalks
More often than not, you’ll find yourself harvesting more celery stalks than you can possibly consume.
While you can give away some to neighbors and family, you can also try growing a new batch from leftover stalks.
To do that, simply follow these steps:
- Cut the base of the celery stalk two inches from the bottom. Then, wash and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- Place the base upward so that the bottom is submerged in water. Use dowels long and thin enough to keep the base afloat.
- Since warm water stimulates growth, pour it into the bowl where you placed your celery base. Avoid using hot water to prevent stressing out your celery.
- Make sure it receives six hours of sunlight every day to help with photosynthesis. Replace the water on the bowl while waiting for new shoots to come out every other day.
Within a week, there should be new shoots and small leaves growing. This is a good sign to transfer your garden celery into rich soil.
How Long Does Celery Take To Grow?
Growing organic celery is an intricate and long process. While it can be challenging for rookies to grow, it is definitely not impossible.
Celery is a hardy biennial plant, and it takes three to four months to mature.
Fully grown celery can reach up to three inches in diameter and 18 inches in height, but you can harvest it when it is at least six inches tall.
When harvesting celery, always cut the stems individually from its outer stalk. Avoid cutting the inner stalks, as these can still mature and produce more celery leaves.
Celery is 95% water, so it’s a good addition to a low-calorie diet. What’s more, it is packed with vitamins and minerals and has a unique taste and aroma.
Although known as a challenging crop to grow, a few tips and a dose of patience will bring this dish-staple to your dining table in no time.