Growing celery as an herb is less known.
We are familiar with celery as a vegetable usually used as a diet food because of its low calorie count.
Celery is native to Great Britain and European countries.
Wild celery is found along English coasts and marshlands.
Celery likes moist rich soils; the plant contains 95 percent water.
Celery has been used as an herb as far back at 3000 years by the Egyptians and in China in the 5th century. Recent research in the 1970’s an 80’s found the oil of celery seed to have a calming effect on our nervous system.
A 1995 Indian study found the seed to help the liver cleanse fat from our system and help lower blood pressure. (Reference, Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, by Andrew Chevallier).
Learning how to grow celery may be beneficial to our health in ways we never considered.
Nutrients in celery; 4 stalks (100 gm) contains the following:
Vitamin A 20 units
Vitamin B1 .030 mg
Vitamin B2 .015 mg
Vitamin C 5 mg
Phosphorus 46 mg
Calcium 90 mg
Iron .8 mg
Protien 1 gm
Photo by Snijselderij
Celery grows best in cool even temperature climate with 4 months of frost free weather to mature once planted outdoors.
Celery likes rich moist soil and can be grown where the water table is close to the surface.
New varieties perform well under heat and moisture stress. Check with your favorite seed company. I like Johnny Seed they are reliable and have high quality seed.
Celeriac also called knob celery was developed from wild celery. The root is eaten raw or cooked and the root develops to about 4 inches in diameter.
Celeriac is grown the same way as celery but needs less moisture and fertilizer.
Celery is best started from seed starting in January or February for a spring planting. Keep seedlings in shaded area indoor or outside until seedlings are well rooted.
When growing celery plants are 4 to 5 inches tall about 10 weeks old, they are ready to set outside. Young plants can bolt when exposed to 55 degrees F for 10 days or more.
Keep indoor temperature between 60 to 75 degrees F. Harden off young plants by reducing water not the temperature.
Celery has shallow roots so it likes rich moist soil. Dig soil 9 inches deep and spread well rotted compost. Set plants 6-8" apart in rows 24-36" apart. Irrigate to keep soil moist.
Soil must not dry out, to keep the soil evenly moist through out the growing season, mulch heavily. Use shredded straw, hay or leaves as a mulch. Mulch around plants and between rows.
Fertilize with balanced fertilizer one week after transplanting and again two weeks later. When temperatures rise above 75 degrees F protect celery by covering row with muslin laid over row hoops.
Growing celery can be harvested through late summer to fall when the stalks reach 3 to 5 inches in diameter.
To harvest celery for immediate use, cut plants at soil level. Rinse in cold water right away to cool celery down. For winter storage leave the roots intact and store in a cool cellar stored in boxes packed close together and covered.
In areas where the weather stays above freezing plants can be left in the ground and mulched with leaves or straw. Harvest as needed through out the winter months.
Celery seeds contain volatile oil that is used medicinally. The stems are eaten as a nutritious vegetable or made into juice.
For a nutritious drink;
Cut into pieces and run through juicer. Add a couple of ice cubes,
Add 1 tsp of celery seeds to your food, sprinkle on salads etc. each day.
Celery seed has cleansing properties and help detoxify the body and liver. The seeds have diuretic properties and help disinfect the bladder. Use food quality seeds for eating not seeds for planting.