Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Advice please on celery - my challenge for this season

Having read that expert gardeners could enjoy celery from June to November, I felt it was time to plant mine out last week. You can probably see from the size of the plants that I started them off too late for an early crop!
I haven't grown celery before. Uncle David had a crack at it on his allotment last year, to commemorate the centenary of my grandfather's birth. Grandad used to bring a beautiful white celery for our family to share at Christmas teatime, so it was a nice way to remember him. Unfortunately David didn't have much success, despite years of veg growing and horticultural experience. Slugs love celery so it was probably a bad season for it, even though there was so much rain, which should be good for such a tender and hungry crop. So what tempted me into growing a veg which seems generally accepted to be extremely fussy?
I confess it was lack of research. I read the very positive write up of Full White Celery by the Real Seed Company. This was designed to sell celery seeds, of course, and make it seem really simple, so I ordered them and didn't actually read up about growing it until the seedlings were well underway. Ah well, challenge is good. I've kept them frost free and well watered and they have done well so far. Let's see how they grow in the new deep bed.
RSC's write-up said that this variety doesn't need earthing up, I can just put an elastic band around the stems, or wrap them in newspaper as they grow. But I would like white celery rather than green, the flavour is milder and less bitter. So I've buried the plants, leaving just a couple of leaves above the ground. I've no idea if this is the right way to do it, but four plants I put into a big pot in the garden at home seem to be doing ok, they've put more leaves and stalks up and I'm earthing up as they grow. We can only wait and see! If anyone's got positive experience, or any advice about this I would be grateful.


Jo said...

I've never tried growing celery before but I will be interested to follow your progress.

David said...

Hello Helen,
This is your Uncle David reporting in. So you are up for the challenge for growing old fashioned white celery...good for you. Here are a few suggestions that I hope you find helpful:
1. Make sure the celery are kept moist at all times. Unfortunately this attacts slugs, so you need to keep your eye on both parties.
2. Your grandad used cardboard rather than newspaper to keep the celery clean when earthing up. Newspaper tends to stick to the celery when lifting, whereas cardboard doesn't. Don't wrap them too tightly when earthing up as they need room to grow inside the tube.
3. Yes, slugs were a problem for me last year. Your grandad used liquid slugit to keep the celery clean. Like a lot of garden chemicals, I think it has been withdrawn and I'm not sure there is a comparable alternative.
I look forward to hearing how your celery progresses.

Scattered Gardener said...

Jo, thanks for posting! And David, welcome to the world of blogging you old timer:-)
I wonder whether nematodes might be a contemporary (and greener!) substitute for Slugit? Have you any experience of using them on your allotment?
Also, the plants are really small at present, at what stage should I wrap them?