Celery

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Apium graveolens

Sustainable Ewe favourites:

Utah, Peppermint Stick, Elne

Quick Reference

Optimum Soil Temperature 20-25°
Days to Germination 18-25 days
Days to Harvest 90 days from transplant
Direct Sow or Transplant Transplant
Distance Apart 30cm
Soil pH 5.9-6.9
Annual/Biennial /Perennial  Biennial

History

Cultivation of Celery started around 3000 years ago in the Mediterranean coastal marshes.  Originally it was grown as a medicine, said to help with toothache, insomnia, anxiety among other things.  It was first used as a food proper in Italy during the early 16th century.  The first written mention of it comes from France in 1623, it was not until 1664 in England that ‘sellery’ is found in text.  Introduced into the USA in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1856 by George Taylor a Scotsman.

Traditionally celery was grown in trenches to keep the light off the stalks and give it a sweeter flavour.

All parts of the plant are edible – stalks, leaves, roots, and seeds

Celery is a member of Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family ans thus is related to fennel, carrots, and parsley

Growing

Germination can take a long time, up to a month so patience is required when growing celery from seed.

Prick out when plants reach 5cm.

Blanch stems – 3 to 4 weeks before harvesting wrap in black polythene, cardboard, or newspaper to 40 cm and tie off.  This is said to sweeten the taste.

Celery can be used as a pick and pick again vegetable.  Cut what you need from the outer stalks and leave the rest to continue to grow.  Cutting off the whole plant off at the base it will re-sprout but not be as big.

Storing harvested celery:  Can be kept in a cool dark place.  Store in fridge up to two weeks (cover with water for a longer storing time)  Can be canned (fair taste), frozen (good taste)  or dried (good taste)

Seed Saving:  Insect pollinated.  Isolation distance of 1km.  30 plants recommended for genetic diversity.  As it is a biennial seed is harvested in the second year and plants may be difficult to overwinter.

Seed Life:   Five years

Maintenance

Fun Facts

April is National Fresh Celery Month in the US

A plant can grow up to a metre tall.

Ancient Romans believed celery was an aphrodisiac.  There may be some truth to this as it does contain androsterone, a male sex hormone.  They also believed that wearing wreaths of celery when out drinking would avoid hangovers.

In athletic games in Ancient Greece winners were presented with a bouquet of celery.

Celeryville, Ohio, USA was founded in the 19th century by celery farmers.

The ‘Celery Flats Interpretive Center’ is a celery museum in Portage, Michigan, USA.

28 grams of seed is enough to plant one acre (0.4 hectares)

Celery contains Vitamin A, B2, C, K and folate.

In 1996 Celery was declared an offensive weapon and the Gillingham Football Club in the UK banned the vegetable as club members were sneaking it into the grounds and throwing it at their own goalkeeper.

The most dangerous part of celery for an allergy sufferer is the root, although all parts can cause anaphlyaxis.

Problems

Septoria Leaf Spot – black or brown rusty spots on leaves.  Most common in colder weather.  Crop rotation is important to help mediate the occurrence of disease.

Bolting/Running to Seed – Happens when there is a cold snap followed by a warm spell.  Can occur when the soil drys out. Water regularly in dry periods.

Split Stalks – Can be caused by dry soil  Also an indication of excess Nitrogen.  Water regularly in dry periods.

Thin Dry Stalks – Lack of ferliliser and/or moisture.  Feed and water plants.

Pests

Aphids – clusters of tiny insects on leaves.  Keep plants well watered in dry periods.

Companion Planting

Bush Beans, Cabbages, Dill, Leeks, Marjoram, Tomatoes

NEVER:  Parsnip, Potatoes