Before 2019 celery was an elusive vegetable that appeared in the occasional salad or disguised in a chef’s mirepoix. But now that the Kardashians have sworn by the health benefits of celery juice and various Instagram influencers have labelled it a ‘superfood’, this vegetable is front and centre in the health world. Whether they were paid off by ‘big celery’ or just needed a new trend to start, it is finally getting its much-deserved airtime and us gardeners should be ecstatic.
The question though is is it a herb or a vegetable? Whichever way you view it, celery has been grown for its nutritional and medicinal properties for at least 3000 years. All you need is a row of plants, perhaps even in containers, to have a constant supply of crunchy green stems for salads, juicing or adding to slow-cooked stews and soups.
Store-bought celery is miles apart from crunchy, juicy garden grown celery in terms of flavour and texture, and with its upsurge in popularity now is the perfect time to plant.
The basics of celery
This vegetable tends to be called fussy, but the trick to successful growth is to treat your celery as though it were more human than plant (although you may seem slightly crazy). The three essentials that keep people comfortable are a pleasant temperature, drinking enough water and eating enough food; celery is no different. In other words, celery is needy.
This plant can’t withstand extremely high or low temperatures, and needs a nutrient rich soil that has been well composted. Plenty of water is essential and the soil should never be allowed to dry out. With regular watering, biweekly fertilising and good morning sun you should have no problems producing a bounty of super celery.
Celery planting and care
- Sow seeds shallowly in trays and cover to retain moisture until the plants germinate. Start seeds indoors for a better success rate.
- Once the seedlings show three leaves, transplant into containers or beds in heavily composted soil at a shallow depth, about 20cm apart.
- Water immediately and mulch when the stems grow taller to retain moisture.
- Keep up the watering and fertilising, especially in the first few weeks of growth.
There is no set ‘right time’ to pick your celery as young stalks and mature stalks are very similar. The stalks can be harvested whenever you need them once the plant has reaches 20cm tall. Remove individual stalks from the outside in or remove the whole plant when it has reached maturity. This vegetable can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks without trouble, or even stored in the freezer for use in soups.
Grow this vegetable with other edible plants that have the same water, light and nutrition requirements, such as cabbage, beans, leeks, lettuce, spring onions, spinach and tomatoes. Celery improves the health and flavour of cabbages in particular, and repels white cabbage butterfly.