Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CELERY

Who would ever have thought that celery could be so delightfully delicious! Celery was never much of a garden standout until chancing upon a superb variety from Territorial Seed Company named Utah 52-70 R Improved. Oh, my. This celery is crunchy and juicy with a "sweet, rich, nutty flavor."  
Nothing compares.
CELERY Utah 52-70 R Improved

Celery needs to be started early in the season. The tiny seeds usually take about 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. Sprinkle them over the surface of a good sized casserole type container filled with potting soil. As tiny as these seeds are, it is difficult to spread them evenly and keep from using too many. So maybe try using something like a salt, pepper or herb shaker. It helps. There are commercial items designed for just this purpose as well. It's not necessary, but once the seeds are in place, cover the entire surface with about 1/2 to 1 inch of fine sand. Fine sand on the surface seems to improve water absorption by dry soil below and it prevents seed disturbance when water is gently sprinkled on the surface. And, it is no challenge for sprouts to emerge through the sand.
Yes, it is snowing!




Gently water thoroughly and cover with plastic. Place on a seed warming mat or in your warmest location. Remove the plastic cover and water whenever the soil is not plenty moist. Replace plastic cover. Once the plants emerge, remove the plastic cover permanently and thin (remove) any plants that are too close together. The plants will grow happily for 4 to 6 weeks indoors in a warm well-lit location.  The next step is to remove all of the celery plants from the container. Gently separate the plants from each other.  Place each plant in its own 4" pot and set each potted plant on trays.
Move the trays of celery plants out to a cold frame or greenhouse for hardening off, adjusting the plants to cooler nights. 
                                                                                                                                                                     photo by Hope Merritt
Several trays of celery plants are growing in our greenhouse
in the center rear of this photo.




Celery does not like overly cool soil. Wait until the soil has warmed considerably if you are planning to grow your celery outside. Maybe wait until late May or even early June. The plants will be quite large in their 4" pots and will have a considerable amount of root. Once planted in fertile soil, cover the celery bed with a floating row cover permanently to ensure enough warmth. Remove the floating row cover periodically to weed. Then replace the cover. Celery does not like dry soil, so water regularly if it is not raining. No need to remove the floating row cover to water. 
Celery growing under floating row covers to increase soil temperature.


Unfortunately, slugs are attracted to celery. Slugs tend to crawl inside the stalks and heart areas and munch away. I check the plants every so often and pluck any slugs out with a long needle or something similar. Reaching in with your fingers will be frustrating because the slug usually slides off fingers and down deeper into the celery plant!



We keep a dozen or so celery plants growing inside on the soil floor of our greenhouse. They mature sooner than outside and are not bothered by slugs. Rather than harvest the entire plant, we twist and pull off as many celery stalks as we plan to eat... and leave the rest to grow.
Stalks are harvested from the outside of plants...
leaving the remaining to grow and be harvested later on.






                                                                                          photo by Hope Merritt
Harvesting an entire celery plant from a bed outdoors.



There are endless ways to enjoy eating this variety of celery. Try plain and raw,  swiped with cheese or peanut butter,  cooked into soups,  added to stuffings or added to fresh juice:
Making fresh vegetable juice including celery.




2 comments:

  1. Thanks Florence! My celery has never seemed to grow well, and now I see several tips to try! Cindy Westergaard

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are so welcome, my friend. This variety seems to be no fail...so far!

    ReplyDelete