Celery, scientifically classified as Apium graveolens, is a biennial herb that belongs to the parsley family (Apiaceae).
It is a popular vegetable, and its parts have long been used for medicinal purposes.
Its stalks, leaves, and seeds can be eaten, but growing celery is a challenge for gardeners because it is not the easiest task.
Celery picture by Dave Morris
Celery requires a long season to grow and needs a lot of attention and watering when growing. It needs to be grown in cool temperatures, but the hardwork and effort that it takes to properly grow Celery more than gives the gardener his due reward.
Photograph of Celery seedlings growing by Rene Cunningham, CC.
It is recommended that celery seedlings are started indoors because celery seeds are very tiny and not easy to sow. As a celery plant takes a long time to grow and mature starting them indoors allows the plants to have a good start.
Celery prefers a rich soil that is high in organic matter.
It is best to start growing celery at least one month before the last date of frost in your area. Begin by spreading a few seeds into small and individual containers or pots with soil. After the seeds sprout and are large enough to be thinned, remove the bulk of the sprouts, leaving just two or three in each pot or container. When the plants grow and become larger, thin them out again to just one plant in each pot.
The plants are ready to be transplanted to their final location when they are around 4 inches (10 cm) tall, but it is best to harden the seedlings for around two to three weeks first before transplanting.
Transplant celery seedlings outdoors only when the frost season in your area is over, and the temperature is consistently above 50°F.
Plant the celery around three to four inches (10 cm) deep into trenches, and space them at around one foot (30 cm) apart with the rows at least 2 feet ( 60 cm) apart.
A maturing celery plant is a heavy feeder. Water the celery regularly to maintain an even soil moisture.
They perform best when they get around six hours of sun, but not enough soil moisture will make the stalks dry, and affect the taste of the celery.
Frequently fertilize the celery plants for continuous growth. Mulch can be added to protect the soil from pests and to retain moisture.
Regularly cultivate and remove any weeds around the growing celery plants to avoid competition for water and nutrients.
At around ten days to two weeks before harvesting cover the celery plants to protect them from the heat of the sun, this will allow them to turn green. This method is called blanching. Methods of blanching include using tilted boards to shade the celery plants, wrapping heavy paper around each plant, or gathering the stalks together and fitting them over the top of the plants.
A successful crop of celery satisfies gardeners and the taste and quality far surpasses those sold in supermarkets.