Celery is one of many salad crops that is available throughout the year, but as ubiquitous as it may be it is a genuinely underrated as an salad crop and often considered boring. Of course this may be just because eating shop-bought celery is about as satisfying as drinking warm beer, but that is only because modern production techniques concentrate on size, colour and shape and nothing at all about the flavour. This is why celery has the taste sensation of a stick of water.
|Growing celery from seed|
The trouble with growing celery is that is come with a lot of cultural baggage and this is because traditional varieties needed a lot of work and attention. They had to be planted in deep trenches, and required layers of soil added regularly to blanch the green stems. Fortunately those clever plant breeding fellows have manage to develop a number of self-blanching cultivars that no longer need earthing up to produce those succulent, crisp white stems.
Celery prefers moisture-retentive, well-drained soil in a sunny spot, but before you start sowing celery seed willy-nilly you will first need to prepare a seedbed. To begin with, dig the soil in the spring before planting, removing big stones, weeds and incorporating plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure.
A week or so before planting, rake in a general purpose granular fertiliser such as growmore into the surface layer of the bed. Just make sure you abide by the application rates to prevent root damage later on.
You will need to sow celery seeds under protection during March and April. First, fill a seed tray with a good quality compost such as John Innes Seed and Cutting'. Level and tap the tray to settle the compost
|How to grow celery from seed|
Once the seedlings have germinated the tray can be taken out of the propagator or sealed bag, but can remain on the bright windowsill. As soon as the first set of proper leaves have formed they can be carefully pricked out of the seed tray and potted on individually into 3 inch pots filled with a good quality multi-purpose compost. Try and keep damage to the roots to an absolute minimum.
Again, keep the young plants well-watered but not waterlogged, and fingers-crossed, your young celery plants will be ready to go outside about five weeks later once they have been hardened off.
Planting out into their final position
|Growing celery from seed|
Keep them well-watered, especially over the summer, and make sure that the area around them is free from weeds to prevent poor growth from competition. Apply a water soluble fertiliser four weeks after sowing and then keep it to once a month until harvesting in August. You can carry on picking celery until the first frosts.
Simply lift the plants as required using a hand fork. Just make sure not to damage any of the neighbouring celery plants as you do so.
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