Celery – How To & Lessons Learned

After a bountiful celery harvest I had a request to write a post about growing celery.  This was my first season growing celery and I have learned a lot, but I still have a great deal to learn.

I started by selecting a variety, Tango, that appeared to be “beginner proof”.  “Tango performs well under less-than-ideal growing conditions such as heat or moisture stress.” (Johnny’s Selected Seeds webpage) which is why I chose it.  I had heard from other gardeners that celery could be difficult to grow.  I also knew as I tried for the first time my error was going to be significant.

Celery prefers wet soil that is high in organic matter.  I have good to very good organic matter but my concern was keeping the soil watered enough.

Celery seeds just planted in February 2012

Not long after this picture was taken I found the trays had dried out.  The plants were close to the grow light and it dried them out faster than I expected.  This happened a couple of times.  I thought the plants would bolt, go to seed, when I planted them outside but they did not.  This year I will do better with this.

They grew slowly compare to the peppers and tomatoes.

Seedlings March 4, 2012
Seedlings March 25, 2012
Seedlings April 15, 2012. Not much growth from the previous picture.

I followed Johnny’s Selected Seeds’ advice and slowly allowed them to acclimate to the outside temperatures.  I waited until the first days of June to transplant them into the garden beds.

Planting the seedlings six to eight inches apart.  I laid soaker hoses at the bases of the plants.  Straw was laid over the soaker hoses to slow evaporation.

Celery seedlings transplanted. June 2, 2012

This summer was particularly dry.  I tried to do my best keeping everything water enough.  Trying to improve celery watering I used plastic milk jugs with small holes punched in them to slowly water groups of plants.  This plan worked mostly well.

The celery overcame l these challenges.

The celery on August 26, 2012

My final harvest.

The complete celery harvest on October 9, 2012

I think for the first time growing celery it went well.  What did I learn?

Celery lessons:

  • There is such a thing as too much celery
  • Plan ahead – know what you will do with when you harvest it
  • Use black plastic to further slow evaporation
  • Harvest more celery – it will likely come back after harvest
  • Take time to select the best variety for you

I hope you are encouraged to start growing celery.  If I missed covering you question let me know.  I feel like I missed something.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

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