Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Herbs

Growing Celery (page 2 of 2)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Fertilizing and Watering

Sidedressings of 5-10-10 or a similar balanced fertilizer or manure tea in the second and third month of growth will help keep celery growing steadily. Use one tablespoon per plant and sprinkle it in a shallow furrow three to four inches from the plant and cover it with soil. Continue to apply manure tea weekly as you water the plants.

Give your plants plenty of water. If celery is short on moisture, or a hot spell hits, the stalks get tough and stringy. They can also develop hollow or pithy stalks in dry spells.

When celery gets big enough to eat, start harvesting the larger, outer stalks as you need them. The center will keep producing stalks. To harvest big plants at the end of the season, simply pull up the whole plant and trim off the roots.

Blanching

Unblanched celery has a deeper green color and a stronger flavor than blanched celery, and it's higher in nutrition. If you prefer the taste of blanched celery, try one of the self-blanching varieties, such as 'Golden Self-Blanching'. To blanch celery, open the tops and bottoms of half-gallon milk cartons and use them as "sleeves." Set the cartons over the plants a week, 10 days or even longer before you want to harvest. The color of the stalks will lighten, and their flavor will become milder.

Some people place boards close along each side of the row to blanch celery. Others simply bring soil or mulch up around the plant to block out the sun, although this method may let dirt fall into the interior of the stalks, making them hard to clean. Plants should be dry if blanched with soil or else they may rot.

There's no need to blanch the top leaves, of course, just the stalks.

Storing

Celery stores really well - you can keep it for many weeks with no trouble. Dig up the plants carefully, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Replant them in boxes of sand in your root cellar or set them close together in a trench in your cold frame where you can keep them from freezing. As long as the roots stay moist and the stalks dry, they'll really keep. Temperatures in the range of 35F to 40F are best for good storage.

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