How to Sprout Celery
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Celery is a negative calorie food. It takes more calories to eat than it provides. Celery is a heavy feeder, just like corn, so it requires more work, higher soil quality and a longer growing season. Sprouting celery seed indoors helps get a jump start on the season and ensures a more successful harvest. Heavy feeders require that the soil quality be amended prior to planting. Be sure to give your garden a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost, as well as another 2 to 3 inches of good, black topsoil and a ground cover of oat straw or burlap weed barrier. Water the celery daily, taking care to check for pests.
Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of pellet fertilizer in the bottom of a 9 x 12-inch oblong, glass baking dish. Cut a piece of floral foam to fit the dish. Place on top of the fertilizer. Add water to one third the depth of the dish. Sprinkle celery seed very lightly, so that just two or three seeds land in any one place. Place in a window with a southern exposure. If you are unable to place it in full sun, place the baking dish under a grow light.
Once plants have sprouted, transplant them to paper cups filled with potting soil and 1/2 teaspoon of fertilizer. Plant just two per cup, opposite one another. When these plants are 4 inches tall, transplant outdoors.
Be sure to broadcast pelleted fertilizer and work in 2 to 3 inches deep of compost before transplanting celery into the garden. Make sure your celery patch will receive full sun for most of the day. Water daily, taking care to look for signs of pest damage. If aphids or other pests begin damaging your plants, mix three or four drops of jalapeno juice with 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap in a quart of water. Spray affected plants lightly, daily, until you no longer see pests. Slugs can be controlled by placing aluminum pie pans full of beer throughout the garden. Aphids can also be controlled by introducing ladybugs to your garden.
Tie plants closed when they reach 12 inches, to keep the celery heart clean. Outer ribs can be broken off at harvest time and fed to livestock or used to make soup base. Be sure to tie loosely to prevent breaking ribs and causing mold and mildew buildup.
Harvest the entire plant by cutting at the base, when the ribs are about 12 to 15 inches long. Discard the outer ribs--feed them to livestock or use them to make vegetable stock. Trim the bottom of the plant off so that just the edible part of the rib remains. Heat water to boiling. Rinse the celery heart under cold water to remove any insects or debris. Drop the celery into a pot of boiling water for 2 full minutes to blanch it. Blanching seals in color without losing all the nutrient value. Dice blanched celery and place in a zipper style plastic bag in the freezer. Toss into casseroles as needed. To make vegetable stock, rinse outer ribs and the base of the plant cut away earlier. Boil for 10 full minutes. Mash and strain it through a food mill, then add salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 chopped onion and 1/2 pound chopped carrots. Bring to full rolling boil. Press through a food mill and freeze in quart size plastic zipper bags.