April 21, 2007 Article
by David Rodriguez
Q. Can celery be grown successfully in gardens?
A. Yes, under the proper conditions. Celery does best in cool weather when nighttime temperatures are around 50º F. and average daytime temperatures stay between 60º to 70º F. Since celery requires these conditions for as long as five-to-six months, the optimum planting time is mid to late summer with harvesting in early winter. Prolonged periods of cold temperature during early growth or excessively high temperatures near maturity will start the formation of a seed stalk. In northern areas set out celery transplants early to avoid damage from low temperatures. In the southern regions seed or transplant in late fall for harvest during mid-winter.
Q. Will freezing weather kill or damage celery?
A. Yes. Young celery plants can be damaged by near freezing temperatures. At or near maturity celery plants can withstand frost or freezing weather although temperatures much below 30º F. can kill or damage them.
Q. What causes the stout and often bitter flavor?
A. Improper environmental conditions, primarily high temperatures at maturity along with stress conditions such as drought or low fertility can cause off-flavored celery. For maximum quality celery must be grown under suitable environmental conditions and a constant level of available moisture.
Q. What is meant by blanching celery?
A. Blanched celery lacks green color. Blanched celery is less popular and the self-blanching varieties are difficult to locate. Most gardeners prefer green celery because it is more nutritious. Green varieties can be blanched if light is blocked from the plant by placing strong paper or boards on each side of the plants or by loosely wrapping individual plants with paper two-to-three weeks before harvesting.
Q. I plant celery seed and they won’t grow. Then when it is too late in the season many of the seeds I planted come up. How can I get the seed to grow at the right time?
A. Soil temperatures must be between 60º to 70º F. with a daily fluctuation to 60º or lower at night. Adequate and constant moisture is necessary for seed germination.
Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is the County Extension Agent-Horticulture for Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at: http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu and click on Horticulture and Gardening.