Planting & Growing Celery

Celery is a staple food in many households. It can be found in nearly every refrigerator drawer and adds a flavorful crunch to many culinary dishes.

Celery is a cool-weather crop that can be grown quickly in raised garden beds or directly in the ground outdoors. It has a long growing period and doesn’t take up much space. You can get plenty of crunchy celery stalks growing right outside your front by following these tips.

Ideal Soil Composition

Celery grows best in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.8 to 6.8. You can get a soil test kit at your local garden center or get a sample of soil tested at your local extension office.

How to Grow Celery

The maturation time for this crunchy-stalked crop is long, so be patient when starting your seeds. You should start your celery seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost in your area. Seeds can take 16-18 weeks to grow, so it is best to start seeds indoors early.

Celery can be grown in cooler temperatures and transplanted outside once at least 5-6 leaves are on the plant. However, even though celery can tolerate mild frosts, you should only transplant seedlings outside once the danger of frost has passed, if possible, to avoid any damage to the plant. You can also use row covers on your crops for extra protection against frost and wind damage. If you purchase celery already grown from a garden center, make sure to buy it before the start of the growing season so that it can have plenty of cool weather to grow outside.

Spacing Celery Plants

Celery seeds can be planted indoors in pots and then transplanted outdoors in raised or ground garden beds once they have established their roots. To help keep the stalks compact as they grow, gently tie them together with garden twine.

Celery Light and Temperature Requirements

Celery grows best in temperatures between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this crop does not like the heat, it should be planted in full sun if possible.

Watering Celery Plants

To thrive, celery plants require constant hydration. Celery naturally grows in boggy soils, so it is important to ensure that your plants don’t dry out and that your soil is moist. Insufficient water can stunt plant growth and lead to stringy stalks and plants that prematurely go to seed. Regularly water and mulch your celery to maintain moist soil and keep your plants cool.

Soil Nutrients

Celery plants are heavy nutrient feeders. You should ensure that your celery plants get enough nutrients by amending your soil with well-decomposed compost. You can use a slow-release fertilizer to keep your crops strong during their long maturation periods. You should also keep your garden free of weeds, which can eat nutrients and remove water from your celery plants.

Celery Plant Diseases and Pests

Celery plants can be grown in various conditions; however, even the strongest plants can still be affected by pests and disease.

  • Slugs – Keep slugs away by planting celery in raised gardens or burying a pie dish filled with beer to eliminate slugs.
  • Leaf Miners – Remove leaf miners by gently squeezing the affected leaves with your fingers and removing the bug.

Harvesting Celery

Celery harvesting is simple. Once the plant has reached a height of at least eight inches, you can harvest any outer stalks and leave the innermost stems to mature until your next harvest.

To remove the outer stem, use a sharp knife and make a clean, angled cut. To remove the entire plant, use a sharp knife at the base of the plant and cut right above the soil.

The Best Celery Varieties

  • ‘Tall Utah 52-70R Improved’
  • ‘Tango Hybrid’
  • ‘Titus’
  • ‘Tendercrisp’

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