I always like growing my own celery because I think it has taste. The stuff you buy in the store is essentially water wrapped around some fibre. Celery from your garden has leaves with flavour and the stalk itself is also worth using (although it might be a little tougher than “store-bought”).
When to Plant
If you want some very early crops, sow the seed indoors the end of February.
Plant seed very shallowly – .5 cm or so (lay the seed down on the pot or flat and cover so you just lose sight of the seed).
The seed will germinate in 15 days (plus or minus 5 to 7 days) if you keep the seed flat around 22C . Commercial growers raise the daytime temperature to 23-24C and lower the night temperature to 18C for increased germination.
Do not allow the seeds to dry out (don’t swamp them either) as a steady moisture level will assist in germination. When the plants germinate, grow them at 18C for good stocky plants. If you let them get too cool in this growing-on stage 12-13C they will tend to bolt in the field and go to seed rather than give you a leafy stalk.
Where to Plant
In full sun in a moderately fertile soil. The trick is to give it a constant sunshine and moisture level.
How to Plant
The seedlings should take 3 months to get 10 cm tall and can be transplanted outdoors after all danger of frost is finished. If you screw up and your seedlings are taller than this – simply whack them back to 10 cm with scissors.
This will check their growth but you’ll get a better plant in the long run than if you put them outdoors and they’re leggy (they flop around and don’t do well when leggy.)
The rule with celery as with any crop is to harden off the transplants before planting. At this stage, be very careful because if you get your plants too cold, they will bolt (flower) in the garden rather than grow leaves.
Care & Maintenance
Plant the celery transplants 15 cm apart in the row. Rows should be 75 cm apart.
This is a very shallow rooted vegetable so you have to make sure it doesn’t suffer from drought (it will get tough), root damage from cultivating too close (it will get tough) and lack of food (it will get tough).
Feed every few weeks with a liquid fish emulsion to keep the plants growing well and avoid – what else – toughness.
I hope the message got through that celery wants warmth, and pampering or it will get tough. If your previous attempts have produced something less than ideal results, just think “pamper this plant” and you’ll do fine.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm