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    Back to Vegetable Gardening    |   Celery

Apium graveolens var. dulce



Zones 5 and warmer, except where early summer temperatures fall below 55° F (13° C)

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Full sun to light shade

Moist, rich, well-composted soil; pH 6.0 to 6.8

Needs lots of moisture, withstands waterlogged conditions better than most crops

6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) apart; 18 to 40 inches (45 to 100 cm) between rows


Harvest celery when the stalks are large enough to use. Can continue to harvest until first fall frost

Comments: Celery is a plant that is very versatile. The leafstalks are very crisp and flavorful, the leaves are spicy and more nutritious than the stalks, and celery seed produces great tasting sprouts.

Planting Site: Celery thrives in cool, moist locations. It tolerates light shade better than most crops, but it should receive at least a half day of sun. Celery grown in complete shade tends to be lanky. In mild climate zones, celery can be grown as a fall and winter crop. Make sure the soil is rich, and well-composted.

Planting & Growing Guidelines: Celery cultivars are available either with traditional green stalks, or the self-blanching golden stalks. Both types need similar growing requirements. Avoid problems by choosing blight and disease resistant cultivars. Because celery roots are very near the surface, they need a lot of moisture and they withstand waterlogged conditions better than most crops.

Celery requires a long growing season with cool temperatures, and is normally grown from seedlings set out in the spring. Buy transplants from your local nursery, or start seeds 70 to 85 days before you intend to transplant into the garden. Germination and seedling growth are slow, sometimes taking 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. Keep seedlings well watered, do not let them dry out, and do not expose them to temperatures below 55° F (13° C) which will cause plants to bolt (go to seed). Germination occurs at a minimum temperature of 41° F (5° C) with an optimum range of 60° to 70° (15° to 21° C).

Set out plants when the weather is settled after the last frost. Optimum growth occurs at air temperatures of 60° to 70° F (16° to 21° C). Air temperatures of 75° F (C) or above can slow the plant's growth rate and turn the leaf edges brown. This crop will withstand light frosts in the fall but is damaged by several moderate freezes. Celery needs lots of water during the growing season to stay tender and flavorful. Mulch to keep the soil moist and cool. In warmer climates, grow celery as winter crop.

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    Fertilizing: Add a general purpose fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 as you work plenty of good compost into the soil before planting. Celery likes well composted and highly fertile soil, so continue to fertilize regularly, every three weeks or so, with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) per plant of 10-10-10, or water with the same fertilizer ratio of a soluble fertilizer, or a very large handful of good compost which generally equals the same. Sprinkle around the base of the plant, but not up against the stem, and water in.

    Pest and Disease Prevention: Rotate plants to avoid most disease problems such as blight. Handpick any parselyworms or celeryworms (green caterpillars with yellow and black bands).

    Common Problems: Excessive heat, inadequate moisture, or lack of fertility will result in tough or stringy celery.

    Days to Maturity: Plants are ready to harvest 90 to 120 days after transplanting.

    Harvest and Storage: Start harvesting celery when the stalks are large enough to use, and up until the first fall frost. Cut individual stalks as needed, starting with the outer, or cut the root of the plant just below the crown. Stalks keep for several weeks in plastic bags in the refrigerator. If they start to wilt, refrigerate them in a container of cold water.

    Special Tips: Plant celery in well composted and prepared beds. Plant seedlings fairly close together as dense growth will help shade out weeds and keep soil moist and cool.

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