Celery is a gardening favorite around the world. Its crisp stalks are a great snack to munch during the warmer days of summer. Few things taste better than a crisp stalk of celery and your favorite dip for snacking.
Celery requires a long growing season. From planting to harvest takes about five months. It is best to plant the seeds inside in pots or starting trays about four weeks before the time of the last frost in your area. Soak celery seeds overnight in a shallow dish of water to make sprouting easier.
Celery was originally grown in Europe and can be grown in most climates. Celery prefers temperatures of between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choose an area of the garden that is partially shaded. An area under the shade of overhanging tree limbs would be perfet. Celery does best when it is not exposed to bright sunlight for long periods.
Celery needs lots of nutrients to grow well. Start by adding a two inch layer of compost or dried manure to the soil. You will need to till the soil to a depth of about 18″ mixing thoroughly.
Celery can be grown in beds four feet wide or in rows about 24″ wide. Dig a trench about 18″ deep and 18″ apart for each plant. Transplant seedlings outdoors when they are about 6″ tall. Add two heaping handfuls of compost or dried manure to the hole. Place seedlings in the hole and back fill with dirt. Water celery plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not wet. If exposed to long periods of bright sunlight, celery tends to sometimes wilt.
Celery should be blanched 2-3 weeks before harvesting. Blanching (cutting off the light) gives celery more tenderness and sweetness. This procedure involves tying the stalks together with string or twine. You need to pile soil up around the base of the stalk to one third the height of the plant. There are also self-blanching varieties of celery available.
Harvest your celery plants when they are about 12″-16″ tall. Simply use a sharp knife to cut the plant off at the roots, just below the surface of the soil. Celery can be stored in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator for about two weeks.
Celery is low in calories and high in dietary fiber. It also contains high amounts of Vitamins A. C and K. Celery also contains potassium, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
Celery has many uses in the kitchen. It is a favorite ingredient in soups and stews. It can be added to your holiday stuffing or eaten uncooked straight from the garden as a snack.
Grow nutrient-rich celery in your garden. Although celery can be a challenging food crop to grow, the many health benefits offered make growing celery well worth the effort.