Homegrown celery has more flavor than its grocery-store counterpart and is convenient to have in the garden. Here are five tips for growing celery.
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1. Choose your planting method for growing celery
Plant celery from seed, starts, or even the cut-off base of a grocery-store bunch. I have grown celery with all three methods, and all work fine. If you find starts at your local nursery, it’s a great way to get a quick start. Growing from celery seeds will give you more control over the variety you grow. A cut-off base is a very simple way to grow celery. Try all three methods for growing celery and see which one works best for you.
Here’s a video tutorial that explains how to grow celery from a cut-off base.
In the low desert of Arizona plant seeds for celery from late September through December. Plant cut-off ends and seedlings from late September through December.
2. Growing celery needs plenty of water
Soil must be consistently moist, but not soggy, to grow celery. This is one of the most important things to remember. If celery dries out it can be stringy, bitter and bolt. It’s important have a consistent watering method. Check out the Step-by-Step guide to Starting a Garden for ideas of ways to water your plants.
3. Growing celery is a heavy feeder
Celery has a small root system and grows best in compost-rich soil that is high in organic matter. Fertilize celery with a fish-emulsion solution each week. To do this add fish emulsion to container and fill with water following dilution instructions on label. Fish-emulsion is a great source of organic nutrients and nitrogen that will not burn plants. It is easily absorbed and quickly taken up by the roots of the plants. I like to mix 5 gallon buckets full and feed the entire garden during the growing season. You can also amend soil around celery with compost. Feeding your celery allows it to thrive.
4. Pick a little or a lot when you grow your own celery
For best flavor, water celery well the day before picking. Use a knife to harvest a single stalk from the outside of the plant when it reaches the desired height. Harvest stalks continuously as needed.
To use the entire plant, cut it free with a spade. Harvest celery until it begins to get hot. For me in Arizona that means late spring. Celery doesn’t like hot temperatures and the flavor will be affected, it will become bitter. The celery will also bolt: meaning the plants focus turns to producing seeds. You will see a central stalk become taller and literally “bolt” if it remains in the ground it will flower and produce seeds.
5. Homegrown celery has many uses
Celery stalks have very few calories but contain important vitamins and minerals. Harvested celery can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Celery is used as a seasoning base in many dishes. Classic uses include veggie trays and filled with peanut butter. Celery can also be chopped and frozen, ready to be dumped into soups and stews.