Growing Celery:
How to Grow Celery Organically

Growing celery can be a challenge, as it has a reputation among gardeners as being a rather fussy, high maintenance plant. However, as long as the soil and water requirements are met, you can grow celery so tender and sweet, you will never buy it at the market again!

Celery is a marsh plant, so it needs lots of moisture and fertile soil as well as some sunshine each day. It does best in cool climates. Celery has a long growing period of around five months, so careful planning with your local weather in mind is essential for a successful harvest.

Growing Celery: Plant Snapshot (Apium graveolens)

Growing Celery
  • Family: Apiaceae (Carrot family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual - Ready to harvest 16 weeks after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Tall Utah, Par-cel, Ventura, Utah
  • Cold tolerance: Half Hardy – Will survive light frosts. Seeds germinate at low soil temperatures and can be planted 2 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun or partial shade
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Apiaceae: carrot, parsnip
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Bush Beans, Cabbage family, Nasturtium, Onion family, Spinach, Tomato
    • Avoid: Carrot, Parsley, Parsnip
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Growing Celery: Planting the Seed

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Celery seed should be started indoors about eight to ten weeks before the last frost of spring. Once the seedlings have five to six leaves, which should occur about two to three weeks before the last average frost date, they may be transplanted to the garden.

If you live in a region that has cool springs and summers, it is fine to plant celery in the early spring. If your area has warm spring and summer weather, plan to place celery transplants in your garden in the late summer for a fall or early winter harvest.

Snapshot: Planting Celery

  • Planting depth: no more than ½ inch (12.7 mm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 12 inches (61 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 70 to 75 degrees F (21.1 to 23.8 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 7 to 12 days
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Growing Celery: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

Where to Find Growing & Plant Care Supplies...

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Once seed transplants are in their permanent bed outdoors, keep the soil moist and remove garden weeds promptly. Use organic garden fertilizers every two to four weeks, as celery is a heavy feeder. Plus its shallow, compact roots don’t allow it to venture too far out to find the nutrients it needs.

If you notice that your celery has a bitter taste, try this out… about ten to fourteen days before harvest, blanch (slow enzyme action by blocking out the light) your celery plant either by mounding soil around the stalks or fastening cardboard around the plant to shield it from the sun. Your crop won’t be as green after blanching, but it should taste much less bitter.

Snapshot: Growing Celery

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.9 to 6.9
  • Growing soil temperature: 60 to 70 degrees F (16 to 21 degrees C)
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Growing Celery: Harvesting Time

Start harvesting your celery crop before the first hard frost is scheduled for your area. When the base of each celery plant is about two to three inches in diameter, they are mature and ready to be picked.

With a sharp knife, cut the celery right at the soil level, or slightly below if you prefer.

Snapshot: Harvesting Celery

  • Time to harvest: About 25 to 40 weeks, depending upon variety
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Storing Celery and Freezing Celery

You may store celery for 7 to 14 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator after rinsing, drying and removing any blemished or damaged leaves and/or stalks.

Freezing celery causes the vegetable to lose its crispness, though it is still good to use in cooked dishes and stews.

Before freezing, blanch celery stalks in boiling water after cutting them into one inch lengths. Then, you may drain, cool, and package. Celery stalks may also be frozen as is with no blanching.

Celery seeds are viable for two to three years.

Snapshot: Storing Celery & Freezing Celery

  • Storage temperature: 36 to 40 degrees F (2.22 to 4.44 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 90 to 95% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 7 to 14 days
  • Storage life (frozen): 6 months
  • Seed longevity: About 2 to 3 years
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Growing Celery: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Celery. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Beet Armyworm
  • Black Bean Aphid
  • Foxglove Aphid
  • Leafminers
  • Lygus Bug

Diseases

  • Apium Virus
  • Aster Yellows
  • Bacterial Leafspot
  • Celery Mosaic Virus
  • Crater Rot
  • Early Blight
  • Fusarium Yellows
  • Late Blight
  • Pink Rot
  • Virus Diseases, other
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YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Celery

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