Thursday, January 19, 2012


There are several cultivars of Celery Apium graveolens var. dulce, which are very similar. The only thing that will influence your choice is the planting season; so get advice from a local seed retailer.

Close relatives, Celeriac Apium graveolens var. rapaceum is grown for its celery-flavoured root, while Florence Fennel Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum is grown for its aniseed-flavoured bulb.

Common fennel has a similar growth habit to celery. The stems are buried deep within the above ground parts of the plant, being hidden by the fleshy leaf petioles upon which the feathery foliage is borne.

Celery has a very shallow root system, and needs frequent watering because the roots are concentrated in the top few centimetres of soil and so they will dry out quickly.

What we commonly call the stem of the celery plant, the part that we eat, is actually the petiole from which the leaves grow. If you pull celery apart, it can be observed that the stem is in the centre of the plant near the roots at the base of the plant. It will continue to grow to form a stem and flowers, which will set seed. It is too tough to eat at this stage.

It is possible to grow celery in almost any soil type, but it prefers friable loamy soil. It will grow in sand but much more nutrition and water will be required. Celery prefers to grow in the mid seasons of spring and autumn. It does not like the hot temperatures of summer or the very cold ones of winter. During the summer during its most rapid growing time, it takes about 10 to 12 weeks to reach maturity, and during the winter it takes about 18 weeks to reach maturity from transplanting into the field. It needs two or three applications of nitrogen and potassium during the life of the crop. Celery puts on 70% of its growth in the last 30% of its life.

Planting celery in blocks of plants encourages the stems to grow longer, fleshier and slightly lighter making them less bitter. If you are selecting celery in the supermarket, the bunch should be a good bright, glossy green and should be very turgid. The stems should be very firm in your hand, which will ensure that it will be crisp and have the best flavour.

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