The base of most home cooking starts with chopped, fresh celery. Celery is the foundation of stews, soups, and salads, and growing celery stalks at home is a great way to ensure that you’re always stocked. If you plan to grow this stringy, crunchy plant, then knowing when to plant celery and how to care for it is something to think about.
There are a lot of different factors that go into growing celery in your garden. Searching for information on how deep to plant celery and how far apart to plant celery is just the beginning. This homegrown veggie tastes much better than most celery from the grocery store.
If you bought celery from a supermarket, the plant was likely sprayed with chemicals to extend the shelf life.
When you have your own garden full, this root veggie is entirely natural and better for your overall health. If you’re curious when the best time to plant celery is, follow these tips to plant celery at home.
What is Celery?
Celery, or Apium graveolens, is a herbaceous vegetable used in soups, stocks, dips, casseroles, and more. This herbaceous plant is related to parsley, so the celery leaves look very similar to them.
Celery originated in the Middle East and the Mediterranean and was used for flavoring and medicine by the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. It has large, fleshy stalks that are both crunchy and stringy.
Celery is a cool-weather crop and considered a relatively hardy biennial plant. Homegrown celery is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that all work to reduce body inflammation, support digestion, and aid in weight loss.
Starting celery seeds indoors and transplanting them is one of the most common strategies for celery growing. You can also regrow celery from stump of a celery bunch by starting it in a dish of water.
Now that you know a little bit about celery, it’s time to learn how to plant and care for it.
How to Plant Celery at Home
Before you put in the grunt work, there are two types of celery to choose from. Trenching celery varieties require mounded soil against the stems while they grow to assist the blanching process.
Blanching celery keeps the sun off and stops the veggie from becoming bitter. The other varieties are self-blanching and do this work themselves.
A great one to start with is Tall Utah celery. Purchase celery seeds at your local garden center and ask the workers about the types that best fit your needs.
When to Plant Celery
Knowing when to plant celery is a crucial piece of information. What month do you plant celery in? Although celery is a fall crop, the growing season lasts from the last frost date of early spring to the first hard frosts of early winter.
When you plant your crop also determines if your harvest is in the late summer or fall. As a rule of thumb, start celery seeds indoors at least eight to ten weeks before spring’s last frost date.
Growing Celery Seeds Indoors
Celery seeds are tiny, so make sure you handle them with gentleness and keep them close by so you don’t lose any. Before you start to sow the celery seeds, soak them in a glass of warm water overnight to help speed up the germination process.
Fill a few small seed pots with potting soil that is rich in organic matter. Press the soaked celery seeds into the soil, but do not cover them to help blanch them and assist germination.
Cover your pots with plastic wrap to help retain moisture and put them in a sunny windowsill or under a grow light for 16 hours a day. Wait up to three weeks for them to germinate and ensure they have plenty of water during this time.
When the young seedlings reach two to three inches tall, transplant them to deeper pots with fresh, rich soil. Harden off the young plants by slightly reducing their water and putting them outside for a few hours every day before transplanting them into your garden beds.
How Deep to Plant Celery
It is safe to start transplanting celery when the ground soil temperatures remain around 50°F. Along with soil temperature, knowing how deep to plant celery is equally imperative.
The best way to plant celery is ensuring that it gets at least six hours of full sun every day and has a location that meets that requirement. The shallow roots are fragile and don’t grow in clay, sand, or any other type of ground soil that is too heavy.
Adding rich compost or other organic matter to your beds helps with this. Dig trenches that are three to four inches deep so that the roots are buried and the stems are partially covered.
How Far Apart to Plant Celery
When learning how far apart to plant celery, make sure each plant has space to spread its roots and reach mature size.
For most celery plant spacing, place each plant six to ten inches apart. Set your celery plants into the trench and mound the soil around the stems to blanch them. For self-blanching celery, one of the best celery growing tips is to space them six to 12 inches apart.
Caring for Celery
Celery needs a lot of water while it grows. If it doesn’t get enough water, you won’t get big, juicy stalks that taste delicious.
Soil moisture is maintained better when you add lots of compost and organic fertilizer. Mulch with wood chips to keep groundwater from evaporating.
Celery stalks tend to sprawl apart as they grow. Try tying them together to keep them from snapping off. Keep an eye out for pests like flea beetles, slugs, snails, and earwigs.
One simple way to deter these pests is to cover the plants with garden fabric or row covers for the first six weeks of the growing season.
Harvesting celery occurs from late summer to early fall by cutting off the stalks above the ground or removing the entire plant.
Good stalks to harvest are usually at least eight inches tall. If your celery plants are bolting and ready to seed, they are still okay to harvest but might have a more bitter flavor.
How to Store Celery
Trying to keep celery fresh is one thing that you might need to consider. One plant makes a large yield, so finding creative ways to store them and increase the shelf life of celery is a fun challenge.
Celery lasts two to four weeks in the fridge. Can fresh celery be frozen? Sure, but try pickling them for even longer storage and bold flavors.
Place the celery, onion, and dill in a large canning jar and set it aside. Bring the vinegar, sugar, salt, water, and celery seed to a boil over high heat until the sugar dissolves.
Pout the boiling hot liquid into the can with the celery and allow it to cool to room temperature. Put a lid on the jar and store it in the fridge for two months.
It’s easy to tell if celery is bad after storage. The color is off, the smell is bad and the texture of the celery is slimy and limp. Toss any celery with these characteristics.
Knowing things like how deep to plant celery and how far apart to plant celery plants help you produce some of the best tasting celery you’ve ever had.
Homegrown celery takes your cooking to a new level with more in-depth and natural flavors. Growing celery in your personal garden beds is an easy task that you and your stomach won’t regret.
If learning when to plant celery has turned you into a master gardener, share these tips for growing celery on Facebook and Pinterest.