Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 100-125 days
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows
Almost absent of calories yet chock-full of important vitamins and minerals, celery produces crunchy leafstalks for use in everything from salads to soups and casseroles. Homegrown celery requires plenty of water, long periods of warm (but not high) temperatures, and can be planted in in most parts of the country. However, it is not suited to humid climates.
Fun Fact: Celery seed, celery stalk and celeriac are each grown from different varieties of the plant.
Sow celery indoors on the soil surface up to 10 weeks ahead of the last frost date.View all
- Prepare this long-season crop by starting seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost
- Home-grown celery flavor is far superior to store-bought
- Plant in nutrient-rich soil that gets at least 6-8 hours of full sun
- Keep well watered or stalks will be very small
- Matures in 100-125 days; harvest by cutting stalks close to the ground
- Pests and diseases include aphids, Fusarium wilt and garden slugs
Celery thrives in cool, moist locations. Select a planting site that receives at least one half day of sun and is rich in organic soil. A heavy feeder, celery does well planted after legumes (see Late Season Cover Crops).
How to Plant
Seeds should be started indoors in propagation flats in the early spring and set out when the soil begins to warm. Set seedlings 8 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. Apply liquid fish fertilizer every 2 weeks.
Some gardeners have success planting celery in trenches and then mounding soil over the plants as they grow. Others say simply to mound soil as the plants grow to keep them upright. Whatever method you use, make sure plants are watered deeply and well mulched.
For white stalks, which some consider a delicacy, plant in milk cartons to prevent light from reaching the plant — but make sure the leaves still receive sunlight.
Mulch heavily around celery plants with organic compost. This helps keep the soil cool, prevents moisture loss and creates a stable, long-lasting soil for your garden.
Begin harvesting when the stalks are large enough to use, all the way up to the first frost. Cut individual stalks with a pruning knife as needed beginning with the outer ones, or cut the root of the plant just below the crown. Harvest should occur 100 to 125 days after planting.
Insects and Diseases
If the foliage on your plants curls, puckers and turns yellow, check for aphids. Yellow leaves may also be a sign of Fusarium wilt. Infected plants show one-sided growth and the vascular strands become reddish brown from the roots to the leaves. Check for garden slugs if you notice large ragged holes in the leaves or stems.
Seed Saving Instructions
This biennial can be overwintered in the ground in mild climates. Where winters are severe, the plants must be dug and stored in a root cellar. Celery plants should be trimmed back and stored in damp earth or sand with the crowns exposed. Store plants between 32-40˚F. Plant back out in early spring, the plants will develop flower stalks that must be prevented from crossing. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
Create your own 2 in. biodegradable plant starters out of recycled newspaper.
Sup'r Green (3-2-2)
Sup'r Green provides over 5 times more plant food value than steer manure.
Alaska Fish (5-1-1)
An all-purpose, deodorized fish emulsion for use on all indoor and outdoor plants.
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