Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Celery?

The short answer:  My husband suggested it and I wasn't thinking. 

The long answer:  Every year I plant something new in the veggie garden.  Something that I've never tried growing before, sometimes something that I've never even tasted before.  Last year it was Swiss Chard.  I'd never grown it or eaten it before, it turned out to be absolutely delicious, beautiful, low maintenance and will be a regular in the garden from now on.  That's actually the way most of my new things turn out.  Thanks to my "One New Thing" rule, I also grow Thai basil, many varieties of squash and melon, corn, bok choy, and daikon radishes every year.  Of course, all those things are fairly easy to grow.  I have my suspicions that celery is not.

Celery is a Mediterranean plant and favors a mild climate (like California mild ...not New Jersey).  It takes a long growing season, about 120 days to harvest, and is intolerant of extreme cold and heat.  I'll have to start it indoors and I need to start it soon if I want to avoid the ridiculous heat of July in New Jersey.  Even with starting it early, I will probably still need to protect it from the heat in May and June by shading it.  Celery likes rich soil, which isn't really a problem since I have three horses that are happy to supply me with all the compost I could ever need.  I will need to water frequently, since our property drains exceedingly well.

Last year I was able to keep parsley growing all summer by tucking it in along the north side of the tomato cages.  During the hottest part of the summer, the tomato vines provided enough shade to keep the parsley from over heating.  I believe parsley and celery are related, I may try the same trick for the celery.

Depending on my spring celery planting success, I may also try a fall planting and overwintering in a cold frame or in a pot next to the foundation on the south side of the house.  I've been able to successfully overwinter several plants I didn't think would make it that way, including tarragon, rosemary and cannas.  It's worth a shot.

Collards peeking through the snow.  They weather the ice and snow quite well and produce steadily from fall to spring.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with your celery! I grew some last year for the first time but seriously neglected it. I think I used a few stalks I cut off, but the plants are still out in the garden probably frozen right now. I'd like to try it again this year though!


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