October Plant of the Month: Celery!
Celery, or Apium graveolens, is an edible plant from the Apiaceae family. Celery began to be cultivated in the 17th century in Europe and used as food. Wild celery had been used in Mediterranean cultures for medical purposes. Celery, also known as selinon (Greek), is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey!
Celery ranges in color from white to green, with the most robust flavor in the darkest shade. It is well known that homegrown celery has a better taste than store-bought, and the outer stalks are best for cooking, with the inner, tender stalks best for eating raw.
Celery plants are divided into two main types: trenching and self-blanching. Trenching celery requires soil to be mounded against the stem or planted in trenches. Gardeners often support this process by covering the celery stalks with paper tubes or bags to keep out light, thus reducing the bitterness. Today most gardeners just opt for self-blanching celery varieties that require no additional work yet taste just as good.
Growing Celery Indoors vs. Growing Celery Outside
Celery is a cool-weathered, long-season crop that requires up to 140 days of growing. Celery seeds are tiny and can take up to 21 days to germinate. However, soaking celery seeds in warm water overnight will speed germination. Growing your celery inside a Growing Dome or starting seeds indoors will give you a significant head start to celery season.
As a hardy plant, celery will be a great addition to your fall or winter garden, especially if growing off the grid. It is best to plant it in the coolest area of your Dome as they do not tolerate heat. When sowing celery seeds directly into your raised beds, it is best to do so about 1’ apart.
Cosmos, daisies, and snapdragons are good companion plants, along with beans, leeks, onions, cabbage family members, spinach, and tomatoes. Celery can also be transplanted from seedling trays. Be sure to give celery 10-12” space between each plant when transplanting. No matter what you do, celery needs rich soil high in organic matter. If you are questioning your soil quality, we recommend doing a soil test.
How to Harvest and Save Seeds to Regrow Celery
Not only can you harvest celery, but also celery seeds. It is best to harvest celery from the outside of the stalk when they are at least 8 inches tall. Celery is a biennial, so it will only flower the second year, and you can harvest the outer stalks while leaving the inner stalk to flower.
Of course, many of us have eaten “ants on a log,” celery with peanut butter and raisins as the ants, but it is very versatile! Whether the stems and leaves are eaten raw, used in stocks or stews, added to salads and other side dishes, or used in the main course, it is a wonderful addition to your vegetable garden. And of course, it is a key component of “cele”-brating Thanksgiving! Celery is used in turkey stuffing, gravy, and turkey soup made from leftovers!
Our favorite recipe combines leftovers with fresh-grown ingredients. – https://growingspaces.com/leftover-turkey-soup/