Growing Celery in Victoria
Celery is a cool season crop and is best grown in the moderate weather of spring to early summer. It has a reputation of being hard to grow, but when planted in the right conditions, it can thrive in the home garden.
Don’t plant celery when the weather is too warm or too cold. The key to success with celery is moderate weather.
You might be tempted to plant celery in a shady spot because it’s a leafy green. Celery actually needs quite a lot of sun to produce big plants and long stems. It needs at least 5-7 hours of sun a day, but will enjoy some afternoon shade.
Dig in lots compost and well-rotted manure. Celery is a heavy feeder and likes rich, well-draining soil. Celery plants have exceptionally fine roots, so they need very light soil. If you have heavier soil in your garden, then you can plant them into pure compost in a raised bed.
Soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting.
Simply sprinkle the seeds onto your soil, cover loosely, and water in. Celery is quite tricky to grow from seed, so unless you’re a very experienced gardener, rather plant seedlings. Celery seeds are really tiny, which makes them hard to sow evenly. Like carrots, they need to be thinned once they’re up. The easiest way to thin them is to use a small pair of scissors and simply cut away the unwanted seedlings. Cutting is a great way to remove any extra seedlings without disturbing the ones you plan to keep.
Plant celery in trenches and gradually full the trenches as the celery grows, this helps to blanch the stems and makes them tastier when eaten raw. Celery doesn’t like to be crowded, so make sure there is only one plant per hole. Sometimes even bought seedling may contain more than one plant per pot. If this is the case, either separate them and plant both or thin the weaker plant. Celery can also be grown from discarded celery roots. Simply buy celery that still has its roots on, use the stalks, and re-root the roots; either in soil or water.
Once the stalks reach a good size, tie them loosely and then wrap them in newspaper. Allow the leaves to sick out the top. You can harvest them 2-3 weeks later. The newspaper will protect them from the sun, and they should be pale when you harvest them.
Water regularly to keep the soil moist. Celery likes moist soil, so don’t let it dry out. Remember to give your plants extra water during hot, dry weather.
Celery is a very heavy feeder. Give your plants a good, nitrogen-rich feed every few weeks. Manure, compost tea or organic fertilizer are all good options.
Mulch your celery plants with a thick layer of organic mulch. This will help to keep their roots cool and moist. Lucerne, sugarcane and pea-straw are all good options.
Celery can be harvested whole or you may remove one stalk at a time as needed. Simply pull the tops of the stalks down towards the soil to snap them off the plant or cut them at the base as you would for spinach.
Rotate crops and apply lots of compost. Plant a green manure crop of mustard greens, and turn into the soil. If this is a persistent problem in your garden, nematicides can be applied, but it’s best to try sort the problem out using organic methods first.
Sow alliums (like onions or garlic) nearby to deter carrot fly. Cover your plants in an insect proof mesh or fleece.
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