Celery

Celery

A popular salad vegetable grown for its crisp tangy stalks. Traditionally grown in trenches and 'earthed up' to blanch the stems. However, there are now several self-blanching varieties available that are much easier to grow. These are less stringy and have milder flavour but are not as hardy as traditional varieties.

How to Cook >> Popular Varieties

Growing Conditions

Soil Type: Water-retentive soil with plenty of organic
matter incorporated.

Conditions: Full sun.

Ease of Cultivation: Moderate

Type: Stem Vegetable.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

When to Sow: March-April

Harvest Season: 20 to 25 weeks after sowing.

Planting and Growing Celery

Preparation

Celery is a really greedy crop so plant in a rich fertile soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated. Rake-in a general purpose fertilizer about a week before planting.

Choose an open sunny site, although celery will tollerate a little shade for part of the day. Avoid waterlogged conditions.

When to Sow

For an early crop sow seed under cover in February. Maincrops can be sown in seed trays in March and April. Prick out into individual pots or modules as soon as they can be handled. Harden-off before planting out from late May.

Plant self-blanching types in blocks, with an 8 to 12 inch (20 - 30 cm) spacing each way, depending on variety.

Plant traditional forms in a trench 16 inches (40 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) deep. Spacing plants 14-18 inches (35-45 cm) apart. Fill in the trench as the plant grows to blanch the stems. Alternatively, you can grow the celery on flat soil and wrap brown paper, newspaper or aluminium foil around the stems to exclude light. Secure these around the sides of the plants with soft garden twine but keep the leaves open to the sun so the plant can keep growing.

Taking Care of Celery

Keep weed free and water frequently. Bolting (running to seed) can be problem if the plants dry out in hot weather, so water regularly in hot spells. Watering should also be consistent or the stems will become stringy.

Apply extra fertilizer if growth stalls.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to Celery fly and slugs. Slug damage can cause a bacterial infection so put your slug control measures in place early. Celery fly can mine the foliage, which causes brown patches on the leaves but this is rare. Picking off and destroying the effected leaves is the best control.

Harvesting & Storing Celery

Harvest when the heads are large enough, around 20 to 25 weeks after sowing. Watering a few hours before harvest will help improve storage time.

Trench celery can be left in the ground in mild areas, if some protection is provided from rain and frost. All other celery types should be harvested when mature. Harvest the remaining plants before hard frost strikes.

Can be stored in the fridge for several weeks.

How to Cook Celery

Celery is usually eaten raw in salads. Try mixing with crunchy apple and walnuts and a light dressing. The stalks can also be sliced and added to stews, casseroles, soups or sauces.

Nutritional Value

Celery is very high in fibre and nutrients. It contains good amounts of vitamin C, beta carotene, phytonutrients, flavonoids and antioxidant nutrients.

Popular Varieties of Celery

Trench Varieties

Celery Mammoth White is a vigorous growing trench celery, producing crisp white sticks of good flavour.

Celery Red Martine is a traditional English variety, where the large green stems have a red tinge. Winter hardy. Height 18in (45cm), spread 12in (30cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Celery 'Giant Red' is a traditional trench celery that produces long, crisp, red tinged stems up to 24in (60cm) high and 2in (5cm) thick. If left unblanched the stems have a much stronger flavour. Available at Suttons and Mr Fothergills.

Celery 'Giant Pink' produces long, crisp stems up to 24in (60cm) high and 2in (5cm) thick. Once blanched the stems take on a pink tinge.

Green and Self Blanching Varieties

Celery 'Blush' produces attractive blush-pink stems. Ideal for summer salads. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Celery 'Golden Self Blanching' is a traditional variety that produces medium-quality stems of firm texture and excellent flavour. Available at Mr Fothergills.

Celery Lathom Blanching Galaxy produces long stringless crispy stems. Self blanching and bolt resistant. Can be grown under cover or outdoors. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Celery 'Loretta' is a vigorous variety that produces smooth, crispy, tasty stems. Self blanching and disease resistant. Harvest from mid summer. Available at Marshalls.

Celery 'Tango' (F1 Hybrid) produces light green green, smooth stems with good flavour and crunch. Self blanching and bolt resistant. Stands well during hot weather. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Plant Groups