Celery is a classic of the salad bowl and absolutely essential for those crudities and scooping out dips. It is however not that straightforward to grow without some care. However, careful preparation and concern for its growing conditions should ensure an excellent crop. The vegetable is also ideal for creating stocks when finely cut up.
Sowing Celery Seed
Celery seed is quite fine and needs to be sown indoors from March to early May at about 0.5cm deep. A tray of good quality compost should suffice. The tray is watered by misting with a spray bottle, allowed to drain and then placed in the greenhouse in a light and warm position. The temperature should be between 15 and 20 °C.
The compost needs to be kept moist but not saturated and the seedlings usually appear in 14 to 21 days.
The young crops are transplanted to individual cells in trays or larger trays, about 5 cm apart and grown on to a point where they are large enough to be handled. As in all handling of young seedlings, grab the plant by the leaf and not the stem as this causes extreme damage otherwise.
The celery is grown on in cooler conditions but not cold. The young plants are hardened off by exposing to cold before planting out in May or June, allowing about 25cm between crops and 45cm between rows. The soil must be watered regularly.
Most celery is grown in a trench which means it can be earthed up to produce whiter or redder stems are required. The trench needs to be 15cm wide and 10cm deep. The soil is retained from the trench so it can be earthed up as the stems grow.
Earthing starts when the plants are about 30cm high which is usually around August time. Before earthing, some string is tied around the leaves and just above the stem but below the leaves. This process is repeated as the crop grows so that the stems remain tight together. The crop is harvested between September and December.
If you are looking for seeds then Simply Seeds offer a couple of varieties which should be of interest:-
cv. Victoria is a UK-bred F1 Celery, that has been produced specifically for UK growing conditions. It has an attractive mid-green colour. It has a tall erect habit with fleshy petioles and is a self-blanching variety.
cv. Celebrity is a self blanching type with short petioles which hold well. It has very little stringiness for a self-blanching type and is slightly quicker to mature than Victoria.