Newcomers to vegetable
growing soon learn that growing traditional celery
involves a lot of effort. Trenches must be prepared
and the stems must be earthed-up at intervals
until only the green leafy tips are showing. This
latter process of earthing-up is often called
blanching, but that is something of a misnomer.
The main purpose is not to whiten the stems –
it is to lengthen and reduce the stringiness of
the stalks and to improve the flavour. Nowadays
we have self-blanching varieties and so both trenching
and earthing-up are no longer necessary. These
varieties are less crisp and less flavouring,
and cannot be left in the ground once the frosts
arrive, but they do make celery growing easier.
Easier, but not easy. Humus-rich soil is still
necessary and so are regular watering and feeding.
Expected germination time: 12-18 days
Approximate number per ounce: 70,000
Expected yield from a 10ft row: 12lb (6kg)
Life expectancy of stored seed: 5 years.
Approximate time between sowing and picking: (Trench
varieties) 40 weeks; (Self-blanching varieties)
Ease of cultivation: Difficult – especially
the trench varieties.
· All varieties require a sunny site and
well-prepared soil. For self-blanching types dig
a bed in April – incorporate a generous
dressing of manure or compost.
· For trench varieties prepare a ‘celery
trench’ in April and allow to settle until
· Just before planting rake a general-purpose
fertilizer into the surface inch of the bed or
Sowing and Planting
· Sow seeds under glass and harden off
the seedlings before planting outdoors. Seedlings
are ready for transplanting when there are 5 or
· Prepare a ‘celery trench’
– dig it 12in (30cm) deep and 15in (37cm)
wide, and fork over the bottom. Then place in
a layer of well-trodden manure or compost, and
then a layer of soil to within 3in (7cm) of ground
level. Plant seedlings 9in (23cm) apart in the
· Self-blanching varieties are planted
9in (23cm) apart in a square block (not in rows)
so that the crowded plants will shade each other.
Trench varieties are set out at 9in (23cm) intervals
– fill the trench with water after planting.
· Buy celery seedlings for planting in
late May-mid June. Or raise your own by sowing
seed under heated glass between March and early
April – make sure that the seedlings do
not receive any check to growth and ensure that
the plants are properly hardened off before planting.
· Self-blanching varieties will be ready
for lifting between August and October. The trench
varieties are grown for winter use from October
until mid to late February.
Looking after the crop
· Celery is a thirsty and hungry crop –
water copiously in dry weather and liquid feed
with Instant Bio during the summer months.
· Blanch trench varieties in early August
when they are about 1ft high. Remove any side
shoots, surround the stalks with newspaper or
corrugated cardboard and tie loosely, after which
the trench should be filled in with soil. In late
August mound moist soil against the stems and
in mid September complete earthing-up to give
a steep-sided mound with only the foliage tops
showing. Do not let soil fall into the celery
hearts. In frosty weather cover the tops with
· With self-blanching celery tuck straw
between the plants forming the outside line of
· Lift self-blanching varieties as required
– finish harvesting before the frosts arrive.
Remove the outer plants first, using a trowel
so that neighbouring plants will not be damaged.
· Lift trenching varieties according to
type – white types up to Christmas and the
coloured ones in January. There is no need to
wait for a sharp frost – there is little
scientific evidence that frost improves quality.
Start at one end of the earthed-up row –
replace soil to protect remaining plants.
These varieties are not easy to grow, as trenching
and subsequent earthing-up are time-consuming
jobs. Choose from this group if you are an exhibitor
or if you have rich, deep soil and like a challenge.
Otherwise grow self-blanching celery. The white
trench varieties have the best flavour but are
the least hardy. Grow pink or red celery if you
want a New Year Crop.
Giant White: The traditional white-stalked celery,
tall and crisp and full of flavour, but demands
good growing conditions. Various strains are sold
by seed suppliers – you may find Solid White,
Hopkin’s Fenlander or Brydon Prize White
in the catalogue. Prizetaker is a popular choice
for the show bench.
Dwarf White: A short-growing variety which needs
less careful blanching than Giant White.
Giant Pink: A hardy variety for use in January
or February. The crisp stalks form a solid heart
and the pale pink sticks blanch easily. It may
be listed as Unrivalled Pink – the strain
Clayworth Prize Pink has a good reputation.
Giant Red: Hardy and strong growing – the
outer stalks are purplish-green, turning shell
pink when blanched.
Standard Bearer: A red celery which has the reputation
of being the latest of all to reach maturity.
Not popular – you will have to search to
These varieties have taken some of the hard work
out of celery growing. They require neither trenching
not earthing-up, and they mature before the end
of summer. They are milder-flavoured and less
stringy than trench varieties, and they are not
Golden Self-Blanching: The basic yellow variety
– low-growing and early maturing with a
fair but not outstanding flavour. Ready for cropping,
like the other yellows, from August.
Lathom Self-Blanching: A better choice than Golden
Self-Blanching if you want a yellow celery. It
is less likely to bolt and the flavour is better.
The hearts are tender and stringless, but all
self-blanching varieties should be eaten on the
day of harvesting whenever possible.
Celebrity: A new variety, claimed to be an advance
on Lathom Self-Blanching. All the good properties
are there, but the sticks are longer.
American Green: The basic green variety –
solid hearts, pale green stalks, crisp but stringless.
Ready for cropping from October. The popular strain
is Greensnap – there are others, such as
Celery is not an easy crop to grow successfully,
and its culture is made even more difficult by
four serious problems which can plague this crop.
Three of these problems are easily noticed whenever
they occur – celery fly, celery leaf spot
and slugs. The fourth problem is shortage of water,
and here the effects are less obvious but no less
devastating. Prolonged dryness at the roots will
invariably lead to the production of plants with
Celery Fly (Leaf Miner)
Celery Leaf Spot (Blight)
Celery Heart Rot
Slugs and Snails