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Vegetable Gardening: Growing celery from seed....

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evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

October 20, 2011
6:52 PM

Post #8857611

Have any of you grown celery from seed? This will be the first time I will be planting it, and even the label says that it might be a challenge. I have square foot gardens with organic compost-rich soil.

Any suggestions would be appreciated as I could not find any "starts" in the nursery or garden center.

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rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

October 21, 2011
10:15 AM

Post #8858212

evelyn_inthegarden wrote:Have any of you grown celery from seed? This will be the first time I will be planting it, and even the label says that it might be a challenge. I have square foot gardens with organic compost-rich soil.

Any suggestions would be appreciated as I could not find any "starts" in the nursery or garden center.


I've only ever seen celery seedlings offered for sale once or twice, and I've only tried growing the "leaf celery", which has thin stalks and is used only for flavoring. But I remember from school that celery is not an easy crop to grow.

I suggest you check the EDIS publication at < http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi035 > for the required growing conditions - they are rather stringent, at least for commercial production, but something close enough might be achieved in a small garden. The main requirements are plenty of moisture and nutrients to keep the plants growing fast; otherwise the stems will be fibrous. That's usually achieved (in Florida anyhow) by growing on rich organic muck soils. The second requirement is cool temperatures, which limits planting in South Florida to the time between October and March. Celery is reportedly only grown commercially in the US in Florida, California and South Texas because those are the only areas capable of providing the ideal growing conditions on a large scale.

If you are only interested in the celery flavor, I would recommend finding the "leaf celery" usually offered in the herb sections of seed dealers. It is MUCH easier to grow because the plants are not dependent on such rapid growth and plentiful water, and the leaves provide roughly the same celery flavor to cooked dishes.

-Rich
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

October 21, 2011
8:44 PM

Post #8858794

Thanks, Rich!

Right now it is cool enough so I just need to get the seeds started. I will try for fall, and then start some in winter for early spring as it is hot during the summer, and I would not try to grow it then as I would not be able to keep it watered well. I probably should have already started seedlings indoors in late summer as they seem to be slow growers. It will be a challenge, but I love fresh celery, and I would really appreciate it in my garden. I just got the seeds the other day.
raeben
Great Falls, VA
(Zone 6b)

April 20, 2012
5:33 PM

Post #9090863

Here in Northern Virginia, I have about 30 celery seedlings that are yearning to go out. But I'm reading that while celery is a "cool season" crop it is both cold and heat sensitive.
-- night temperatures below 55oF for more than 8-10 days (http://www.southernexposure.com/celery-celeriac-ezp-51.html)
-- more than 12 hours of weather under 50F (http://harvesttotable.com/2009/01/how_to_grow_celery/) it will bolt!
We are warned NOT to harden celery off using temperature, but rather to restrict water. (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7524-tango-og.aspx)

While everything here has bloomed 2-4 weeks ahead of schedule this year, nights are dropping down below 50 regularly. So I think it's too early to put it out.

The last time I tried celery I bought 2 plants and was surprised with moderate success (celery is supposedly hard to grow). I "neglected it" by putting it in an earthbox, which turned out to be good as they like moist muck. For lack of a better spot, I set it partly under my overgrown Burford holly. It was in partial shade pretty much all day. While I didn't get huge stalks, everything grew and there were some pretty tasty vegies. I'm reading that they like afternoon shade. Guess I gave them the right environment the first go round, quite by accident or intuition. I could have put them out in full sun (I really have a pretty big yard) but I didn't think they would like that.

Do you have any plants ready to go out this year?
MaryMcP
Phoenix, AZ
(Zone 9b)

April 21, 2012
11:54 AM

Post #9091726

I've grown it before, was umimpressed. It seems you have to protect the stalks from the sun or they bleach out, are tasteless and fiberous. I'm going to try that cutting celery Rich mentioned. I'll grow them in cinder blocks that rim a garden bed. Hope to get the seeds sown this weekend. DH got the blocks painted white for me.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

April 26, 2012
10:42 PM

Post #9099539

MaryMcP wrote:I've grown it before, was umimpressed. It seems you have to protect the stalks from the sun or they bleach out, are tasteless and fiberous. I'm going to try that cutting celery Rich mentioned.

Here are several you may want to pick from.

Kitazawa sells three varieties! (http://www.kitazawaseed.com/seeds_chinese_celery.html). It sounds like the same leaf-type I have grown.
Parks sells a variety named Safir (http://parkseed.com/celery-safir/p/05564-PK-P1/)
Sand Mt. Herbs calls it "Leaf Celery" (http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/celery_leaf.html)
Johnny's has it as "cutting celery" (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8219-cutting-celery.aspx)
as does The Cooks Garden (http://www.cooksgarden.com/vegetables/celery/cutting-celery-afina-prod000728.html)

I grew it because I really wanted home-grown celery for my recipes and knew I didn't have the conditions (or patience) for growing the stalk type. IIRC it grew best for me in a large plastic pot with some rich organic media in part shade. The leaves are definitely celery-flavored, stronger even than the leaves on the store-bought stuff. They can get bitter if the plant is stressed by allowing it to dry out or when it forms flower shoots, just like other members of the family.

-Rich
MaryMcP
Phoenix, AZ
(Zone 9b)

April 27, 2012
4:55 AM

Post #9099659

Thanks for those links Rich. I hope to get my cutting celery seeds sown this weekend. I'm going to use my Jo Parrott inspired cinder blocks. I need some more tomato seeds so I'll try a different cutting celery seed when I order next.

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JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

April 27, 2012
7:00 AM

Post #9099778

Mary, I just took this photo of my Cutting Celery- It has never been this big before. I divided it and gave several away and kept 2. I think I will cut one of them way back to grow later, and use the other for cooking and salads. I just love the flavor of it! Good luck with yours- it is sort of slow from seeds-

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jenhillphoto

jenhillphoto
Danbury, CT
(Zone 6a)

April 29, 2012
4:41 PM

Post #9102926

I grew celery from nursery bought starts last year. Don't know the variety as it just said, "celery" on the tag. It was my first time for celery and an impulse buy. The little celery starts were so cute! Like miniature celeries. I know, what else would they look like!? But they were cute to me. Maybe I had dumb luck, but it did quite well without much intervention from me. We did have a very rainy season last year and I do have irrigation set up for when it doesn't rain and I do have high organic content in my amended soil. Now that I think about it, the spot I put it in was a tiny bit on the less sunny side. It was much stronger tasting than store bought celery.

This year, I got seed from Johnny's, Tango celery: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7524-tango-og.aspx

I have started the seeds, but not planted out yet. According to Johnny's it is better to wait until the weather really is warm for plant out. So I will wait. Maybe I'll use an earthbox for my celery this year. That way it is consistently moist as stated above.

Here is a pic of some of my celery along with the rest of my harvest from July 17 last year.

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evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

April 30, 2012
10:28 AM

Post #9103985

Thanks for the tip. Maybe I will put some of the seedlings in part shade. I did find some starts, and I have some in a square foot garden, and some in 2 different beds in the ground. If they do half-way decently, I'll plant some on the shady side of a corn planting. By the time it gets hot they will have shade.

My seedlings are not ready to plant yet, so it WILL be warm by the time they are ready. They are still quite small.

I really like the "stalk" kind, as I like the munching more than for flavoring soup. Still home-grown will probably have a lot more flavor than what is offered in the supermarkets, even organic ones.
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

April 30, 2012
10:30 AM

Post #9103987

jenhillphoto ~ What a lovely picture of your harvest!
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

June 13, 2012
2:18 PM

Post #9163891

My celery seedlings all died on me -- too dry, plus I think fungus gnats got to them. I was thinking of direct seeding them, but after reading about these comments, I think I'll start them again in peat pots. The nights are still too cold here in central Mass.

Then again, I may just buy some young plants if they're available at local nurseries.

This message was edited Jun 13, 2012 4:23 PM
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

June 14, 2012
10:11 AM

Post #9164882

BrrAnn ~ You might try and look for them in early spring next year, or start some inside in fall or winter.

So far I have some in a square foot garde, under some Remay for shade cloth, some in two different places in the ground without any cover. They are all alive and green, but not yet ready to harvest. I will let you know if they get that far.

Right now our temps have gone up to 80° and the low is at about 60°. That is probably too high for celery, so I am expecting them all to bolt. As well, the temps in the past were well below 50°. I am just experimenting so I just am hoping for some edible celery. I will let you know how it all turns out.

dreaves

dreaves
Hutto, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 4, 2012
6:13 AM

Post #9324208

Evelyn,

How did your celery turn out? I have started some seeds, and I'm trying to grow transplants for planting in the self-watering "e-buckets." I think that winter temperatures here would be more appropriate than springtime. In the e-buckets, I can move the celery to a warmer area if we get a cold snap. I can also move around to different areas of sun and shade as needed.

Here's a picture of some of the seedlings. I have a full flat, started under florescent lights. There are hundreds! I planted way more than I could use since I didn't know how well they would germinate, or how well they will grow & transplant. I need to figure out how to move some of the seedlings to individual pots so I can control the watering better.

Does anyone else have suggestions on cultivating small batches of celery?

David

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evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

November 4, 2012
10:49 AM

Post #9324389

David ~ Some of the celery bolted, and some that I had planted in the ground got eaten by underground critters. The remaining ones are in the 4' X 4' "square foot garden" and some that were bolted, I just cut back. Others in there are just sitting there. Since they like this weather now, better than summer, I would expect some action, but I do not know.

I did buy some new starts as well, I still have some seed, 'Utah', I believe. So I will start some more, but it might be too late for seeds, as they are slow germinators.

I think you have the right idea as they seem to like it best in cool weather. The only problem would be a hard frost, but I just have not yet been successful with them. I will let you know.

Do you have a bunch of old nursery cell packs? You might put some in there, and maybe others in whatever you have available.

Evelyn :-)
Calalily
Deep South Coastal, TX
(Zone 10a)

November 6, 2012
4:40 AM

Post #9325836

If you just want to grow a few bunches of real celery here is how. When you buy celery at the grocery store cut the stalks away from the base, place the base in a saucer of water and in a few days the roots will grow and new growth will start from the center. When it has sufficient roots, plant it in the ground. Water carefully until established, don't over water but don't let them dry out.

For my celery I pre-germinate my seeds in vermiculite then sow in rows in a starter garden. When the seedlings are large enough to be handled I plant them in trenches, 6 inches apart. I pull dirt in as they grow which blanches them. If baby seedlings are exposed to low temps they will bolt later on. I can't remember if the minimum was 40 or 50 degrees.
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

November 6, 2012
1:39 PM

Post #9326280

We have lows of 50° here all the time. When the lows are higher, so is the temperature. (Usually too high for celery...) Still, I have some in the Square Foot Garden and I will plant more from starter packs. We can't use all that celery, if it all grew, I just want to learn how to grow it in my climate. The first snow is usually mid to late November.
nancynursez637
Madras, OR

November 19, 2012
2:57 PM

Post #9337391

I grow celery from seed every year, good thing i did not know it would be difficult or I might not have tried it. I have great success with it, start it in a container, broad casting the seed, then when they are about 4" high transplant them out in soil that has a lot of amendments in it. I water it regularly, fertilize it with a liquid compost tea every 3 weeks, and it does great. I do not trench it, I used to tie it up but found it does just as well left to its own devices, I use Utah Tall, and mulch the soil, grow them close together so no weeds compete.

works for me

medlarman

medlarman
Fairfax, VA
(Zone 7a)

November 20, 2012
12:42 PM

Post #9338183

If you're willing to try something that's not quite celery, how about smallage/Apium graveolens

The second page of this article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/garden/ye-olde-kitchen-garden.html?pagewanted=2&ref=garden says:

Quoting:
"The biennial plant grows a stalk like celery, but thicker and taller. And for 300 years — in between “medieval English cookery” and the “18th century,” Ms. Wall said — it displaced celery in cookbooks.

She discovered why after she and the head Plimoth horticulturist conducted a long quest for smallage, and she finally grew out the seeds herself.

“I was making potato salad,” she said, “and I didn’t have any celery. Then I realized, I have smallage. And in potato salad, it was heaven.”


Edited to add: Ha! This is the same as the "cutting celery" mentioned earlier in the thread. Should've been paying more attention. The article is still well worth a read.


This message was edited Nov 20, 2012 4:06 PM
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

November 20, 2012
1:33 PM

Post #9338278

Yes, cutting celery is wonderfully versatile in cooking. I posted photos earlier-- mine lasted over 2 years in cinder blocks. (since then I have discovered that it is a biennial- hence why it died after 2 !) I sowed some seeds a few months ago and now have new seedlings in the cinder blocks- which will grow all winter. I also have one in the greenhouse-just in case! I use it in nearly all my cooking and salads.
nancynursez637
Madras, OR

December 31, 2012
11:43 PM

Post #9371986

Extra celery can be harvested before the frost in the fall, cut into 3/4th inch cubes or smaller, simmered in chicken broth and frozen in 1 cup amounts covered in broth. Makes great addition to soups, stews, and some casseroles.

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