Celery – Victoria F1
If you have tried to grow crunchy celery before and have failed, Victoria will come to your rescue. It is absolutely fantastic, producing strong upright stalks that are crisp and succulent.
In late March to early May, sprinkle the small seeds thinly onto a filled 9cm pot containing fine seed compost and place on a propagator. About 3 to 4 weeks afterwards prick out the seedlings into individual cells of a modular tray. Plant out about 8 weeks after sowing.
27cm x 27cm each way.
Approx. seed count: 50
Apium graveolens L. var. dulce
Umbelliferae (also known as Apiaceae)
I often find celery quite difficult to grow outdoors. The stems can become quite tough and dry. In a tunnel or greenhouse, however, we can all grow fantastic celery far sweeter, crunchier and juicier than from any shop. Even people who claim not to like celery will change their mind after tasting a home grown celery from a tunnel or greenhouse.
The secret of growing good celery is to choose a good variety and grow it on a fertile soil with plenty of moisture.
The older types of celery required blanching of the stems in order to rid it of its unpleasantly strong flavour and green colour. This process involved digging a trench and planting the celery inside and gradually filling up the trench as the celery grew. I have never come across anyone who grows celery in this way nowadays.
Over the last few decades many self-blanching varieties have appeared and made it much easier to grow celery. No trenching or blanching is required.
Soil and site
Celery prefers a rich, loamy soil with plenty of well-rotted compost added to it. The pH should be between 6.5 and 7.0. It can even grow in a more shady part of the tunnel (behind climbing beans or tomatoes) provided there is adequate ventilation.
I usually broadcast (sprinkle) the tiny seeds into a standard seed tray or pot containing seed compost. It is very important not to cover the seeds as they require light to germinate. The pots or trays should be placed on a heating bench or on a warm south-facing windowsill. The seeds take about two weeks to germinate. The seedlings can be pricked out into modular trays when they are 3cm tall (about 2 weeks after germination). It is really important that they are pricked out at an early stage otherwise there will be too much root disturbance which may lead to bolting at a later stage. Ittakes about 8-10 weeks from sowing to planting out.
For continuity you can sow every 3 weeks from late February until early June. All sowings can be planted in the tunnel or greenhouse.
The highest yields can be achieved by a spacing of 27 x 27cm each way. If you want smaller plants you can decrease the distance to 20 x 20cm or if you want to show off increase if to 35 x 35cm.
Celery in its natural state is a wetland plant so it requires a consistent water supply. If drip irrigation is used I would still recommend some additional overhead watering with a watering can. Lack of water will make the stalks fibrous and bitter. If the plants look stunted you could sprinkle some organic poultry pellets around them
Celery can be harvested about 10 weeks after planting. It will last well for about three weeks and then becomes fibrous and tough.
Harvest the whole plant when the stalks are reasonably big and before they get stringy. If you want to keep it for a few days harvest early in the morning and trim the tips of the leaves to leave about 25cm of stem and keep in a plastic bag in the fridge. They should keep for a month. The cut off leaves can be used immediately in soups or as a flavouring.
Tunnel grown celery generally grows very healthily. Even the carrot root fly seems to leave it alone indoors. The celery leaf miner (also known as the celery fly) may sometimes cause damage. Tiny maggots tunnel within the leaves and cause irregular shaped blisters.
How much to grow?
You will get 12 plants per square metre. Once mature, celery will only stand for 3 weeks in the garden, so only grow a few at a time.
Celebrity (early maturing with crisp, nutty flavoured stems)
Lathom Blanching Galaxy (an excellent well flavoured and reliable variety)
Victoria F1 (excellent variety, great flavour, green colour and long standing ability)