How to Grow Celery From Seed: A Comprehensive Guide
Celery, a versatile vegetable abundant in essential vitamins and minerals, is a must-have for any garden. Despite its reputation of being a tricky plant to grow for beginners, wonderful rewards await those who patiently nurture their crops. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to grow celery from seed and enjoy its fresh, crisp taste right from your backyard!
Step 1: Choosing the Correct Type of Celery Seed
The first step on your celery-growing journey is choosing the right type of celery seed. Varieties such as Tango, Tall Utah, and Monterey are all excellent options. When purchasing celery seeds, look for disease-resistant strains for a higher success rate.
Remember that the freshness and quality of seeds significantly affect germination rates. Expired or incorrectly stored seeds may not sprout as expected. To ensure success, always source your celery seeds from a reputable supplier or garden center.
Step 2: Starting the Seeds Indoors
Celery seeds require a long growing season and must be started indoors 10-12 weeks before the last spring frost. Begin by filling a tray with a mix of half sterilized garden soil and half compost. Sprinkle the seeds onto the soil surface and lightly cover with more compost. Remember, celery seeds need light to germinate, so don’t bury them too deep.
Water the seeds lightly, maintain a temperature of around 70°F, and wait for germination, which usually occurs between 2 to 3 weeks. Once the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, transplant them into individual pots until you’re ready to move them outdoors.
Step 3: Transplanting Celery Seedlings Outdoors
Approximately two weeks after the last frost, it’s time to transplant your celery seedlings outdoors. Choose a spot with rich, well-drained soil and full sun to light shade. Incorporate compost into the soil to provide the nutrients your celery plants need to grow. Transplant the seedlings, ensuring they are 6 to 10 inches apart to avoid overcrowding.
Water the transplants thoroughly after setting them in. Maintain consistent moisture in the soil, as celery has shallow roots and will dry out without regular watering.
Step 4: Caring for Your Celery Plants
Celery plants require consistent care to yield a substantial crop. Water them regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. Apply a balanced vegetable fertilizer every few weeks to encourage lush growth and consider adding mulch to conserve water, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
Protect your celery plants from pests such as aphids and slugs by using organic pesticides or encouraging natural predators like ladybugs into your garden. With proper care, your celery should be ready to harvest in about 16 to 18 weeks.
Step 5: Harvesting Your Celery Crop
To harvest, simply cut the celery stalks at the base when they’ve reached the desired size. Leave the roots in the ground, and they may produce a second harvest.
Harvest your celery in the morning for the best flavor. After harvesting, you can store the celery in the fridge for up to three weeks or blanch and freeze it for long-term storage.
__Frequently Asked Questions__
Q1: Can you grow celery from the base of a store-bought bunch?
Yes, it is possible to regrow celery from the base of a store-bought bunch. However, be aware that while this method is great for garden experiments and learning, it might not produce as large a harvest as starting from seeds.
Q2: Does celery require full sun to grow?
Celery grows best in full sun, but it can tolerate light shade as well. In regions with very hot summers, afternoon shade can actually benefit the plant.
Q3: Why is my celery growing tall and thin?
If your celery is growing tall and thin, it may be due to inadequate sunlight or too much heat. Providing the necessary sunlight, keeping the soil cool, and consistently watering can help the plant develop properly.