How to grow celery
Many will tell you that celery is the gardener’s challenge, but really you don’t have to be a professional gardener to grow this crunchy snack. Here are some simple tips to help you grow celery from seed.
1) Plan to plant your celery in early spring. Because celery seeds are small and hard to manage and need for a long growing season, will probably want to start them indoors. Using potting soil, fill some shallow trays with dirt. I use cardboard egg cartons because then I can just pop the sprout out when I am ready to transplant.
2) Sprinkle the celery seeds on the surface of the potting soil. Remember, the more space you can put between the seeds, the easier it will be to transplant them. Don’t worry about covering them with dirt.
3) Water the seeds with a gentle, indirect flow of water. Do this daily and make sure the soil stays moist. You should begin to see sprouts within a week.
4) In two to three weeks, the sprouts will be bigger, but will probably still have only 2 leaves. This is the time to very gently transplant them if they are clumped together. Despite my best efforts, the celery always manages to sprout in close clumps. In order to transplant them, I make sure the soil is slightly moist, but not damp, and carefully pop the clump out of the egg carton. The soil normally falls away and I am left with little naked sprouts which I then replant in newspaper planters, disposable plastic cups, or another trusty egg carton, this time one per hole.
If the danger of frost is over, you can plant them directly outside and space them 8-10 inches apart. They will continue to need lots of water, so it would help the celery if the soil is more spongy than clay-like and if you plant them in the valley of a shallow trench. The trench not only helps retain water, but it will also help the celery grow straight and tall while allowing you to «blanch» it as it grows. At this point, the sprouts are still very fragile and so indirect watering should be continued.
5) Around week four, your sprouts should have grown a third leaf that looks more like celery. Most people will choose to plant them outside once they have added a few more leaves and are about 3 inches tall.
6) After you have planted your celery outside, make sure you water it daily, but don’t over water.
7) Throughout the summer, you can cut stalks off of the outside of the plant and use them. If they haven’t been blanched, they will have a stronger flavor and you will not require as much in recipes.
8) As the celery grows, you may want to push dirt up around the stalk. This will help the celery grow straight and will also transform the stalk from a bright green, to the more traditional celery color. This process is called blanching and it can also be accomplished by wrapping newspaper or packing paper around the stalk, leaving the top portion with the leaves uncovered.
9) Harvest takes place at the end of the summer. To harvest, cut the stalks off as one unit, taking the top of the root bulb with them. Wash the celery in cold water. If you decided not to blanch your celery, store it in the fridge for a few weeks and it will blanch itself.
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