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Growing Celery – The Grand Experiment

Garden grown celery
Our first harvested head of celery – picked July 29, 2012. It was 24 inches long!

I first outlined our plans to grow celery in our garden in my Growing Celery in Ontario post in early May. Well I’m happy to say that the experiment in growing celery our first time has been a huge success. Everything I researched came up with four main themes for growing celery:

  1. Celery is a long-season crop.
  2. It can be tricky to grow and is hard to transplant.
  3. It likes fertile soil.
  4. Celery prefers cool temperatures and constant moisture. It will not tolerate heat and toughens if it dries out.

Well here’s my experience:

  1. Yes it is a long season crop but…
    I started my celery indoors March 5, planted them outdoors by early May. We harvested our first full head of celery July 29 — just 21 weeks or 146 days after starting the seeds. Not too bad. But better still we actually started enjoying celery in salads and cooking much earlier. Having planted more celery than I would need for canning, we used a couple of plants at the end of the row to supply a few ribs throughout the summer by cutting off just what we needed from the outside of the clump. This meant we were using our own fresh celery by early June.
  2. I’m not sure where the reputation for tricky came from. I’ve never grown anything easier. The celery seeds germinated easily, transplanted easily, and were largely bug free. Celery requires blanching to produce whiter stalks but all I did was cover successive plants every few days starting in early July with a used milk carton, cut open at both ends. The celery required occasional watering (given how dry it has been this year) and I covered them with netting just in case our resident deer herd liked them, but that was it.
  3. This year our celery was planted in our new vegetable garden. While we have started to amend the soil, its fertility is average at best and poorer in spots. Yet our celery grew with abandon and was green and healthy.
  4. Well, perhaps they prefer cooler weather but they didn’t get anywhere near that this year. We have set several record temperatures and have had a record number of days with temperatures above 30C. I just made sure to water more on those days and our celery was still nice and tender. Having said that I chose a variety ‘Tango’ that was more heat tolerant and had a shorter maturation time so that may have helped as well.
Blanching celery
I used old milk cartons, open at each end, to ‘blanch’ our celery. I covered each plant in the row starting in early July, with each plant covered about once every 4 or 5 days. To cover the plant I bunched the stalks together with my hand and fit the carton directly over the top. Each plant then grew taller as the weeks passed.
Celery blanched with milk carton
A celery plant just after being covered with a milk carton for blanching.

So I’m happy to say, our grand celery experiment was a definite success and we will be growing celery in our garden for many years to come.

3 Responses

  1. Dad
    | Reply

    Looks tender. How did it taste?

    • everchanging gardener
      | Reply

      Tasted great. I’ll be making cream of celery soup later in the week. I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂

  2. […] your celery: the plants are ready to harvest when large enough! About growing celery: http://j.mp/RETtne TwitterFacebook […]

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