celery? or substitute

veggiecanner(Id 5/6)February 4, 2013

How do you grow celery? I've tryed before and it must have not been very good because I don't remember using it.
It's about the only veg left that I still buy in the store other than big boxes of spuds cause my garden is small.
If not celery What can I grow as a substitute for it? I can many quart of soup vegetables every year and buy celery to go in them. I would like to stop buying it.
Your help appreciated.

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I know how you feel vc, I've tried to grow celery once many years ago but with no luck. In fact, as I recall my seed had to be mail ordered as it is not sold locally here in Va, none that I can find anyways. I really like celery and iceburg lettuce too but neither can be grown here in my climate. Be interested to read others results.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:06PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

This is just what I've read (and why I don't grow it) but celery is apparently one of those finicky plants. It's difficult to grow and most gardeners who do, do so more for the challenge than for the food it offers. I saw it stated in more than one place that it wasn't really worth the time or effort to grow it for the average gardener just looking for food, as something more productive could take it's place in the garden.

Again, that's just what I've read, I've never successfully grown it (I tried and gave up after a couple of failures). It's cheap pretty much year round so I'll just keep buying it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:06PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Lovage is a perennial herb which has a flavor similar to celery. The leaves are used in soup.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Not a fan of lovage, but it is definitely a hardy plant, surviving neglect. I am a big fan of smallage, which will thrive in heavy, organic, well mulched, well watered soils. In sandy soils, don't bother. Smallage is much greener and smaller than celery, with a lot of flavor.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:33PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

The celery we're used to's ancestors are bog plants, so it needs a really wet and very nutrient-rich environment to do well.
I have neither. I grow picking celery, aka Chinese celery.
It's got skinny little stems, no good for eating as-is, but it's great for cooking with, and the young leaves are very good raw.
It's biennial and gets very big as it goes to seed. It sets seed and germinates like nothing else I've seen, but seedlings are easy to pull.
I really like 'real' celery, but I don't buy it: it's at the top of NZ's 'most sprayed' list every year.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:40PM
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How do you grow celery?

you can cut the root section off of the store bought stuff and replant it.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:01PM
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Cutting celery is identical in flavor, much more productive per square foot, and earlier. Celeries are easy to grow from seed, but you have to start early because they are very small initially. The cutting celery is not well known, but it is a great plant for those that like to cook and can etc. It is very easy to grow.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:40PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

I start seeds on coffee filters in a zip-lok bag, then transplant into 4 inch cellls. Then into self-watering containers:


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Celery can be done, but it's challenging. It grows best in muck soil, so it's a water hog. And if you want to blanch it, you need to put up boards on either side of the row. It's the kind of thing I've save for when I had a lot of experience gardening and had extra land to experiment on.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

There seem to be quite a few "it can't be done" responses from people that have never grown celery before!
I grow celery every year and sell it at my farmers market stand. Just like all plants, celery has special needs. If you meet them, it will do fine. Almost every gardener can grow it, even in hot climates.

Celery is easy to start from seed, I recommend starting it in single cell trays or 6 packs, one plant per cell. Here in Oregon I seed it in the middle of march and transplant about 2 months later. Some fish emulsion will keep the plants growing strong in their little pots. Never let the plants dry out, as someone said above, celery likes a lot of water.
Transplant into fertile soil that won't dry out too quick (you don't need a bog) and water often. When hot weather sets in, put lots of straw mulch around the plant to keep the soil moist. If it's really hot, shade cloth may be necessary. Celery has a very spread out, but shallow root system. Short and frequent watering is necessary to keep it moist. Deep watering isn't needed. Too much overhead irrigation can cause black rot so drip line or soaker hose is better.
Thats it! You can start breaking off stems to eat as soon as they're big enough. You don't have to blanch it, new varieties are mostly self blanching. But if you really hate chlorophyll, you can put some extra straw up on the sides to block some light. I usually plant about 200 of them 6" apart, 3 rows per bed.

This is the same way I grow Celeriac a closely related plant to celery. Celeriac is the next best thing, it requires less water and is less disease prone. It keeps well into the winter down to about 20F and for soups, may be even better than celery!

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:55PM
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missemerald(7 (Virginia))

I grew celery for the first time this past summer. Never thought I would because I am not fond of it but I read somewhere that you could grow it from the base of a store bought head and I thought "yeah, right". Durned if it didn't work! I have no idea what variety I grew, and the stalks were slender and not big and fat (like storebought) but it was VERY tasty. It was also prolific and I cut enough for all of my cooking needs up until last month when (I think) a hard frost killed it. I will definitely do this again.

BTW, I'll be rooting some more for this year again but for those of you who grow from seed, what varieties would you suggest? I'm starting to get all my seed catalogs so I'm curious. Thanks!


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:50PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Thats exciting about the re-sprout planting. Mine re-sprout from the stump where I cut them. As you said, not big and thick, but tasty.

The one I grow it called "Tango".

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:17PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


The ones in the above photo are Tango.

Below in the EarthBox is Utah Tall:

I love the celery aroma sitting out on the deck.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 12:33AM
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And if you let a couple of plants go to seed in the second year (they will overwinter in Michigan if you cover them with leaves) you will never buy seeds again.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:06AM
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missemerald(7 (Virginia))


Thanks for the info! Is there a difference between Tango and Utah Tall-- production, flavor, etc? I hope my plants winter over; we'll have to see. How do you root in coffee filters? Never tried that, I tend to start most of my garden seeds in recycled milk jugs here. I'm always open to trying something new.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:15AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

Neither Tango nor Utah Tall require blanching. I like both varieties - but prefer Tango a bit more (flatter stalks).


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I grow both cutting celery and regular celery, both of which produce crisp stalks. Rather than havesting regular celery all at once, I cut stalks when I need them. I especially like red celery because it looks so good in cold salads. I have never had a plant survive winter, however.

Cutting celery is much more vigorous and cold hardy, but the stems are hollow and lack the sweet/salty taste notes of regular celery. Still, a great celery for cooking because it's always there. Every other year I allow a cutting celery plant to bloom and produce seeds, which leads to lots of volunteer plants around the garden. Quite a few come up in the fall, get nipped back by winter, and then start growing first thing in spring. These plants are ready to start cutting from in April, when new annual celery seedlings are just going into the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: cutting celery

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:07AM
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bomber095(z5b MA)

I grew fantastic celery from seed last year. It's actually not that difficult, just make sure it has fertile soil, and ample water.

The seed was started on February 19 under grow lights (took about two and a half weeks to be to the point where I could thin out the jiffy pots), and this what it looked like when I transplanted it outside on May 5. They are the the three plants in the back:

Two weeks later, they looked like this:

Here they are on June 3:

If you can see them behind the kale, here is June 24:

All in all, from seed to harvest took about 130 days. Definitely doing it again this year

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:37PM
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beetlejuicevoyager(5a Montreal (Quebec) area)

Nice pictures! they give a good idea of how to grow inside and start the seeds. Will look for seeds of celery this year, I guess.. Thanks for the encouraging pictures.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Thanks for all the great information. I have lovage but rarely use it. It's easy to grow from seed and is a perennial. Good for a spot in the garden that gets shade part of the day. Never tried it but have read that the hollow stems make good straws for bloody Marys.

I am trying cutting celery and celery root this year. I liked the taste of celery root in soups even with celery. Taste is a bit different.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:04AM
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I have no idea what kind of celery i planted as I was gifted with ready to plant seedlings. They are all happy and growing and green and not bothered much by pests. But the stalks which are about 8" long by now, are bitter. Do I have to blanch them, as I've read? We have about a month before the hot dry weathers sets in. Advice?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Usually the blanching is done a few weeks from harvest and the outer stalks are discarded in favor of the sweeter inner stalks.
If you're getting bitter stalks at a small stage the plants may be stressed by the heat even though they aren't showing it. I'm not sure if blanching at a young age is going to be help-full, but you can try mounding some straw or similar material around the plants stalks. Just be sure to leave plenty of leaves exposed to photosynthesize.

In your area it's going to be hard keeping them happy when the heat sets in. Regular watering at the base, thick mulch and some shade cloth will go a long way. Try to avoid overhead watering as it promotes black heart rot.

Best of luck,

This post was edited by madroneb on Tue, Mar 5, 13 at 11:44

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I grow celery every year. I plant it just like head lettuce. Keep it watered well. In the real hot part of the year I give it some shade from 1:00pm on. Also most people donâÂÂt know this. Buy you some celery from the store. Cut off the stem end about 2 inches above the end where it was growing. Put it in some water about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and place it in a window. It will grow roots and new celery will from inside of the old plant. After it roots plant it in a pot or in the garden. Sometimes I will break off the old outer part and only plant the rooted part and new growth. It will grow just like the other celery. You can just cut off what you need and let it keep growing. It only takes a few days for it to start growing a new celery. It will grow about a inch per day after it gets started. In 5 to 10 days you want beleve it. Give it a try. It's Fun!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 1:14AM
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