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How to Grow Celery
Nothing is more esteemed as a salading than crisp, well blanched Celery, and by following out the instructions given Celery can almost always be available in the Home Garden.
Celery plant care
Celery requires a deep, rich, light, loamy, moist soil, and is not well suited by heavy or clayey land. The ground must be thoroughly trenched and if necessary, well enriched with good, well-rotted stable or cow manure. Although Celery requires an abundance of moisture (it’s a marshland plant), it will not stand “wet feet,” and the soil must be well drained. Celery is best grown in a single row in the middle of a trench, which should run North and South where possible. Make each trench 18 inches wide, and about the same in depth. Trenches may also be made to hold up to as many as four rows. The wider trenches are more economical in regard to water, but they cause more labour in making and earthing up for blanching and for the Home Gardener the single row trench, or at the most a double row trench, will be found more convenient.
In digging out the trenches, place the soil on each side, but clear from the edges so that it will not fall back into the trench On the bottom of each trench place about 6 inches of good, well-rotted stable or cow manure, work it well into the subsoil and cover the whole with 2 or 3 inches of the soil which has been previously taken out. The ground is now ready and should the weather be dry, water thoroughly the day before transplanting out the young seedlings. A good practice is to select a piece of ground in a cool situation which has been exhausted with previous crops, and which requires trenching. Prepare as recommended above, being careful to manure heavily, then when the Celery is finally earthed up, a heavy dressing of manure· is given to the vacant ground between the trenches and after the crop has been removed, the soil is again levelled back. After a deep digging these rows will be well prepared for growing one of the root crops such as Beet, Carrot or Parsnip. Good Celery can be grown without trenches, the ground being deeply trenched, well broken up, and richly manured, and the plants put out in rows 18 inches apart, allowing 12 inches between the plants. With this method, earthing-up is difficult and laborious, and drain pipes, straw envelopes or brown paper should be used for blanching.
How to grow celery from seed – Raising the seedlings
Early sowings of Celery seed may be made in a seed box or seed pan, which must be placed in a hot bed or other warm situation to germinate the seed. Harden off the young celery seedlings when about 2 inches high and prick them out about 3 inches apart into a bed of rich soil about 6 inches deep on a bottom of boards or some other hard substance, which the roots cannot penetrate, so as to facilitate transplanting later on.
This bed must be shaded and well-watered. Successional sowings can be made in an outdoor seed bed. A long succession of Celery may be obtained from a single sowing, by successively picking out the largest seedlings for pricking out as they grow. For the outdoor seed beds for raising Celery seedlings, use light, but not too rich, soil. Sow the seed thinly and evenly over the surface and cover lightly with pulverised old cow manure or leaf mould. Keep the box or bed moist, but not wet. When the seedlings appear they must be kept regularly watered. Should the plants come up too thickly, thin out the weaker ones so as to leave plenty of room for those that remain to make sturdy growth.
When the plants are large enough, cut the soil into squares with a plant in the centre of each, lift with ball of earth complete, and plant out in a permanent position in the trench.
Before finally planting out, every offset or side growth must be carefully removed from the plants. Set the plants out 12 inches apart in the trenches. Water the young plants regularly and keep them well shaded until thoroughly established. It is essential that the roots are not disturbed during transplanting, hence the ball of earth. As crisp Celery can only be obtained through abundance of moisture, should an unlimited quantity of water not be available, it is better not to attempt to raise early crops, but to make later outdoor sowings so as to have plants ready for moving with the first rains. Celery is a moisture-loving plant, and must be regularly watered; an occasional application of weak liquid manure will also prove beneficial during· the growing season. Should the plants be likely to suffer any check after transplanting, liquid manure is essential, otherwise they are likely to run to seed.
During the growing season keep the ground between the trenches and between the plants well cultivated to destroy the weeds and two to three times during this period remove any suckers or decaying leaves, spreading an inch or so of soil (taken from the sides) over the surface of the roots. This is necessary after a liberal watering, but it is not advisable to place too much soil around the plants until a month before they are wanted for use, as thereby the growth is checked.
Methods of Blanching
Before finally earthing up, give the trenches a good flooding of water. Earthing up should be carried out only when the top soil is dry and the weather fine. This must be done very carefully, so that soil does not fall into the heart of the plant. In earthing up, first tie the leaves together with raffia and then throw the soil in in layers and pack it closely around the plants by hand. Bring the earth nearly up to the tops of the plants, leaving only the green out. Another effective method of blanching, and a great saving in labour and time, is to place a drainpipe over each plant. Where possible in the Home Garden, dispense with the earthing up method of blanching. Straw envelopes used for covering bottles are useful for blanching, and brown paper may also be used for the same purpose. The sticks of Celery are tied and the envelopes slipped over, leaving only the green tops showing.
The best varieties of Celery for the Home Gardener are Cole’s Crystal White, Golden Self-Blanching, White Plume, White Paschal and Turner’s Incomparable White. Of these, White Plume is the earliest and quickest growing, and it is also easily blanched, but is rather strong in flavour. Golden Self Blanching is not quite as early as White Plume, but is of much superior, easy to earth up and blanches very readily.