I really love growing my own celery and typically start the seeds of this wonderful plant on January 12. Since I am in Indiana, I do not end up with stalks of celery but I do not try for that either. I grow the plant in the ground and harvest the leaves. I dry them in my dehydrator and use them as seasoning. I have thought about trying to grow celery in my high tunnel or even in a container just to see if I could get stalks, but to date I have not done this. Have any of you – in cold, short season climates – figured out how to get celery to mature and produce stalks?
Soak celery seeds for 2 to 8 hours to increase germination. It can take anywhere between 14 and 25 days for celery seed to germinate, depending on the exact variety.
Celery Amsterdam Seasoning: This variety is ideal for me because it is grown for the celery flavored leaves the plant produces. It does not form thick stalks – so if that is what you are after, this is not the variety for you. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and 8 inches apart in the garden.
This particular variety reaches a mature height of 12 inches. Germination occurs in 18 to 24 days. Wait until the plant is well established in the garden before harvesting the leaves to use fresh or dry for winter use.
Celery Mix: I was drawn to this plant because the stalks come in a variety of colors – pinks, reds, golds and greens. I love color in the vegetable garden and I love teaching people about all the unusual varieties of vegetables that are out there on the market. This mix is ideal for both of those goals. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep and 6 inches apart in the garden.
This particular variety germinates in 21 to 25 days. Piling soil around the base of the plant as it grows lengthens and blanches the stems. This variety takes 15 to 19 weeks to mature.
Celery Red Venture: A very uncommon, exotic looking celery with dark red or pink stems sprinkled with green. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Space plants 12 inches apart and place in rows that are 18 to 24 inches apart.
The plant reaches maturity in 100 to 110 days.
Celery Tall Utah #527OR, Improved: This is the typical super market celery and the most popular variety for home gardeners. It is a cool weather vegetable that produces broad, thick stalks. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep and space the plants 8 inches apart. Plant in rows that are 3 feet apart.
This particular variety germinates in 14 to 20 days. It takes 125 days to reach maturity. It is recommended to blanch this variety for 2 weeks before you harvest it to promote tenderness.
Celery is a heavy feeder so plant it in moist, rich soil and side dress it with fertilizer or compost at least once during the growing season.
Are you interested in knowing even more about seed saving and starting? Check out my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting!