By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor
Celeries are biennial plants that grow up to 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) tall, with a spread of 12 inches (30 cm). Traditional trench celeries have white, pink or red colored stems that are blanched before used. The self-blanching celeries have creamy-yellow stems that may be partially blanched. American green celeries have green stems.
Celeries grow best in temperate climates, growing best at 59 to 70 degrees F (15 to 21 degrees C).
Celeries are best grown in an open site in fertile, moisture-retentive, but well-drained soil.
Dig plenty of well-rotted organic matter into the soil before planting. For trench celery, prepare the trench 15 inches (38 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) deep before planting in fall; fork in manure or soil mix and replace the soil to ground level. Celery needs a high level of nitrogen, using fertilizer with 21 percent N content approximately 2 1/2
to 3 1/2
oz. per square yard (70 to 100g per square meter).
Celery is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp petiole (leaf stalk) or fleshy taproot. Celery salt can also be made from seeds and extract of the roots.
Choosing a Variety
Recommended celery varieties are: Self-blanching; Galaxy and Golden Self Blanching.
Trench; Matador, Picador, Ventura and Victoria.
American green; Tango and Utah 52-70.
Celery seeds can be sown in spring in their natural environment after all risk of frost is past. They can also be grown indoors in seed trays or cell packs at 59 degrees F (15 degrees C) no more than ten weeks before the last expected frost. Sprinkle seeds onto a soil mix or cover them shallowly and ensure that there is enough light exposure for germination. Do not sow too early for celery plants may bolt if the temperature falls below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
Plant self-blanching types 9 inches (23 cm) apart in blocks. Cover young plants with clochesor floating row covers, removing them after a month.
Plant trench celery seedlings 15 inches (38 cm) apart in single rows.
Celeries require steady growth. Ensure that there is no shortage of water nor any drop in temperature in controlled environments. Water the established plants at a rate of 5 gallons per square yard (23 liters per square meter). Apply liquid fertilizer or fertilizers with nitrogen about a month after planting.
Watch out for pests and diseases, such as slugs, celery flies, cabbage root maggots, boron deficiency and fungal leaf spots.
Harvesting and Storage
Self-blanching and green celeries can be harvested 11 to 16 weeks after planting and trench celeries in late fall; cutting the stalks before they become pithy. Before frost, lift and store remaining plants in a cool, frost-free place with high humidity where they can last several weeks.