Celery Used as Disease Prevention for Thousands of Years
Did you know celery (Apium Graveolens) was used almost exclusively for medicinal purposes from 850 BC through the 17th century? A 2017 phytopharmacological review on celery confirms “…the Apium has emerged as a good source of medicine in treating various diseases.” From weight gain and skin conditions to rheumatic tendencies and chronic pulmonary catarrh, celery is proving itself to be a powerful plant for many ailments and chronic diseases.
Three reasons to grow your own celery
Protect yourself from toxic chemicals. Celery is ranked as one of the Dirty Dozen by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), making it one of the most contaminated produce items on the grocery shelves. When you grow your own, you know exactly how the plants were grown and create a toxic free future for yourself and your loved ones.
Choose foods that are nutrient rich. When you have no idea where your food is actually grown, that’s a big question mark where your health is concerned. Your health starts in the soil, and growing your own food allows you to focus on quality soil. Plus, food starts to decompose the moment it is harvested. There’s no telling how much of those vital nutrients were lost before your food reaches your plate.
The flavor of homegrown celery will surprise and delight you! It’s easy to overlook celery for flashier vegetables. But that is a big mistake, especially in the garden. Because homegrown celery is so much more fragrant than store bought. You quickly rediscover why it’s been in recipes for thousands of years, not just for its health benefits but for its unique homegrown flavor.
Important Tip No One Talks About When Growing Celery
Growing celery from seed is not recommended for beginners. It is one of the more finicky seeds and takes longer than most to germinate. When you find good quality, celery plants at a trusted nursery or farmers market, you will have more success and faster harvests.
If you can’t find celery plants, growing from seed is still an option. Discover best practices in the Grow Your Own Celery – Cheat Sheet.
How To Grow Nutrient Dense Celery
When inviting plants into your life, it’s important to remember that plants want to thrive. They do whatever it takes to grow strong and turn to seed for the next generation of plants. Your role as a steward is to provide the best conditions for your plants to flourish. Here are the eight considerations when growing celery.
1. Growing Celery is Great for People With Busy Lives
Celery is among one of the easiest plants to care for in the vegetable and herb garden. Once your garden is started, it takes just minutes each day to harvest and care for celery. Luckily, most pests avoid this fragrant herb making it easy to care for too.
2. There IS a Celery Variety for Your Climate
Plant your celery outside once night temperatures are above 55°F (12°C). Celery grows best in temperatures between 55-80°F (12-26°C). Living in a hot, dry desert climate? You’ll have better success planting in dappled shade or under shade cloth.
A favorite among many gardeners is Tango variety. It performs well under less than ideal growing conditions such as heat and moisture stress. And the flavor is fragrant with stalks that are more tender and less fibrous.
Which other varieties to consider? Tall Utah is an upright plant, rather than one that spreads out. For color, Giant Red or Chinese Pink varieties are a fun way to add some unusual color to your meals.
3. Your Celery Plants Want 6-8 Hours of Sunlight
Without proper sunlight, your vegetable plants cannot photosynthesize and grow. Your outdoor celery needs 6 hours of sunlight minimum. NOTE: Sunlight and grow lamps are not the same thing. When growing indoors, your celery plants need 16 hours under grow lamps.
4. Quality Soil Means Nutrient-Rich Food
Health starts in the soil. If growing in a container, choose a high quality, organic potting mix. If growing in soil, ensure good drainage, structure and fertility. Add a 2” layer minimum of organic compost on the top of your potting mix or soil each growing season.
5. How Many Celery Plants in How Much Space?
Celery is perfect for small gardens. While planting celery 6” (15cm) apart is recommended, squeezing that spacing to 4” has some benefits. It may lower your harvest per plant, but you’ll get more harvest overall since you have additional plants. This is a great option for people with small growing spaces.
For container gardens, choose a container that is 12” (30cm) wide and at least 12” (30cm) deep for four celery plants or cutting celery clusters. This will give you and your family of four several celery stalks for 2 out of 3 meals daily.
6. Water, Water and More Water!
Celery is 95% water by weight, and needs more water than most vegetables. It’s a marshland plant, so it prefers consistent moisture. That means watering each day (temperatures above 70) or every other day (temperatures below 70). Watering celery once a week typically doesn’t work unless you get significant condensation every night in your garden. How do you know if you need more water? If your celery plants wilt, water more.
Living in a hot, dry desert? Add 6” mulch to the soil which can drop the soil temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit! The soil holds more moisture which keeps roots cooler.
7. How to Harvest Celery for Maximum Yield
You might read that it takes celery 60-80 days before it’s ready for harvest. If you were growing a head of celery like you find at the grocery store, that might be true. But the good news is that you can harvest much sooner with this PRO tip!
PRO Tip for more abundant celery harvests: Cut what you need, when you need it. When the plant has at least 10 stalks, no matter how small they are, start harvesting and enjoying your celery. Simply harvest the outermost stalks and keep at least 7 stalks on the cluster at all times. Your plants may last the entire growing season with this continuous harvest method. That’s WAY better than waiting for one single head of celery!
To harvest, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to remove each outermost stalk as close to the soil as possible. Keep the cuts as clean as possible as old plant material and ragged cuts are places for pests and diseases to fester.
8. Can You Store Celery For Later?
Like most herbs, it’s best to cut and use celery fresh. After all, that is the benefit of your garden, putting the absolute freshest food on your plate at each meal! But if you are harvesting a lot of celery at once, water is the trick to keeping celery fresh. One option is to place stalks in a glass of water on the counter. Display the vibrant green harvest while keeping it hydrated until you’re ready to use.
Celery is a staple in cuisines around the world! If you are considering preserving celery for all your winter soups, use a dehydrator to remove most of the moisture for long term storage. Pro tip: grind your dehydrated celery into a powder and store in an airtight container in a dark cool space to enjoy your harvests year round.
Get the complimentary Grow Your Own Celery – Cheat Sheet with everything you need to grow celery in this two-page printable format.