There is nothing more rewarding than munching on crunchy celery straight from the garden. Celery is easy to grow, if you give it plenty of water, fertile soil and heaps of nutrients.
Celery is frequently dismissed as ‘rabbit’ food or something to eat to stave off hunger pangs when you are on a diet, but this crunchy green stalk is actually one of the healthiest of all vegetables. It has lots of vitamins, minerals and abundant antioxidants and is low GI but high in fibre.
It can be eaten raw with dip or covered in peanut butter or cooked and it adds flavour to stocks, soups and stews as well as being a vital garnish for a bloody Mary!
Follow our seven easy steps to successful celery harvest including tips along the way.
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When to plant
Celery is best grown from seed planted in spring and early summer. It is ideal to grow when it’s not too hot or cold. Check with your hardware or garden centre for varieties that are suitable for your location.
- In hot climates, sow in late summer or early autumn as a dry season crop.
- In cooler climates, it is best grown in the moderate weather of spring to early summer.
- Celery grows best in full sun (or with light afternoon summer shade in hotter climates to reduce stress). It requires soil that holds moisture well.
- Choose a protected spot as strong winds may damage or dry out plants.
- The key to producing good celery is to keep it growing quickly with copious watering and fortnightly applications of a liquid food such as PowerFeed PRO Series for Tomatoes & Vegetables.
Get the soil right to harvest a bumper crop of crunchy celery.
Follow our steps for easy soil preparation.
- Wild celery, which is found growing naturally in parts of the Mediterranean, grows as a plant of marshlands, which is why celery needs moist, well-watered growing conditions in the garden.
- Improve the soil prior to planting by digging in well-rotted manure and compost or apply Seasol Liquid Compost.
- Soils that are highly acidic (below a pH of 6) benefit from the addition of some lime.
- A soil rich in nutrients helps build strong plants so add Seasol Plant + Soil Booster (100g per square metre) and a fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release Tomatoes & Vegetables.
Step 1 – Sowing seeds
- It can take several weeks to germinate so is best started in a punnet filled with seed-raising mix rather than direct sown.
- Grow from seed sown thinly into a punnet or seed tray filled with seed raising mix such as Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix.
- Sow seeds at 6mm deep and lightly cover.
Hint: Soaking seeds overnight in a solution of Seasol and water may speed up germination.
Note: These are not celery seeds, it’s an illustration to show seeds being sown.
Step 2 – Germination
- Seeds take two to three weeks to germinate.
- The ideal temperature for germination is 15-21ºC.
- Water gently and carefully to ensure the potting mix stays constantly moist until the seeds germinate.
- Apply Seasol weekly to help improve seed germination rates and promote strong root development.
- Protect from snails and slugs especially while shoots are emerging.
Step 3 – Baby celery seedlings
- After two to four weeks the tiny seedlings can be transferred into small, individual pots to grow to a size that’s safe to transplant into the garden (at about eight weeks from germination).
- Celery seedlings need a lot of nutrients to grow to produce a tasty bumper crop so liquid feed with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables every 1 to 2 weeks.
- Check soil moisture daily and water as needed. If possible, water in the early morning when the plant is actively growing.
Step 4 – Planting out celery seedlings
- Transplant homegrown seedlings by spacing the small celery plants about 30-40cm apart in a trench or planting hole.
- Stagger plantings over several weeks to prolong the harvest through summer and autumn.
- Seedlings are also available from garden centres and hardware stores ready to plant in pots or the garden. When seedlings have been purchased, plant according to the directions on the plant tag.
- To reduce transplant shock and aid plant establishment, water in well with Seasol and firm them into the soil.
Step 5 – Growing celery in a container
- If growing celery in a container, select a 30cm or larger diameter pot and fill it with good quality, moisture-retentive potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.
- Plant the seedling firmly into the pot and water in with Seasol. Apply Seasol every two weeks during the growing period for strong growth.
- Liquid feed with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables every 1-2 weeks.
- Water well throughout the growing period.
Step 6 – Celery plant growth
- Keep developing plants hand weeded or hoed and well watered so they are actively growing.
- Every 6-8 weeks apply another application of PowerFeed Controlled Release for Tomatoes & Vegetables to produce a bumper crop of crunchy celery and to revitalise depleted soils. Remember to water it in thoroughly after application.
- Mulch around each plant suppresses weeds and helps retain soil moisture.
- As celery plants are hungry feeders also apply a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables every 1-2 weeks.
Step 7 – Celery harvest
- Harvest celery when it is ready for a great crunchy taste, don’t leave it any longer.
- Celery takes about 20-22 weeks to harvest from sowing seed.
- A bunch of celery is one entire plant harvested when the stems are thick and green.
- Individual stalks can also be broken off from the outside of the plant as needed over several months before the entire plant is harvested.
Things to watch out for
If celery is growing without stress, it is a trouble-free crop. Let it dry out and it becomes stringy and bitter with hollow stems.
- Slugs and snails can attack seedlings. To protect against these pests check plants regularly and use a snail trap or pet and wildlife safe baits based on iron.
- Leaf miners (the larvae of a fly) attack foliage causing pale wavy lines. Remove leaves that have been attacked by leaf miner and dispose of them in a sealed bag in the rubbish bin to limit the pest’s spread.
- Leaf spot is a fungal disease that affects foliage. If necessary, control with a copper-based fungicide (following instructions).
- Bolting can occur when the plant flowers prematurely (often due to stress). If celery bolts into flower, instead of developing thick stems, it has probably dried out or is growing in adverse climate conditions (for example high temperatures). Leave some plants that have bolted to flower and attract beneficial insects and form seed, which can be harvested as a spice.