ABCD on Celery farming in Kenya
Celery is one of the few crops that farmers have difficulty growing well, but don’t let that stop you! If you plant at the right time and can give your crop the attention to feeding and watering it demands, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be successful.
Celery is a long-season crop that can be tricky to grow, some might say, the trickiest of all. It likes fertile soil, cool temperatures, and constant moisture. It will not tolerate heat and can be hard to transplant
Celery, a popular and versatile vegetable, has specific growing needs, and when they are met, you will get the best yields.
One of the greatest rewards of growing celery is the tasty soups and salads it will enhance.
WHEN TO SOW
SUN / PART SHADE
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DAYS TO GERMINATE
DAYS TO MATURITY
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- Celery likes moderate conditions – not too hot and not too cold. It hates frost and extreme heat.
- Celery will thrive in full-sun or part shade
- Strong winds can damage and dry out plants, so choose a protected spot.
- Celery is a shallow-rooted plant with a high demand for water and nutrients.
- It grows best in a moist but well-drained soil that is organically rich.
- Add a minimum of a half-barrow load of compost or well-rotted manure per square metre and work it into the top 10-15 cm layer of soil. This will help improve drainage and retain moisture around the root zone.
- Spread a handful of balanced organic fertiliser evenly per square and work that in too.
- Mound the soil to further improve drainage and water it well, then leave it for a week before planting out seedlings.
- Raising your own celery plants from seed is slow and fiddly. If you’re new to gardening, buy seedlings from your nursery. This is also a good option for gardeners in warm areas where the growing season is short and you need to get plants in the ground quickly.
- Celery seed takes 2-3 weeks to germinate.
- The ideal temperature for germination is 15-21°C.
- Before sowing, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. This will improve germination.
- The seeds are tiny, so don’t bury them. Sprinkle them over punnets of seed-raising and lightly press them into the surface.
- Water lightly and carefully, and keep the mix constantly moist until the seeds germinate.
- Once seedlings are big enough to handle, prick them out gently and plant them individually into small pots.
- Seedlings take about 6 weeks to be big enough to plant out.
- When they’re ready to plant, space them 20-25cm apart in a block.
Watering and fertilising
- Keep celery well watered to avoid stress.
- Celery needs to be fed regularly.
- Water and nutrient stress leads to dry, fibrous stalks.
- Mulch plants well to help hold moisture in the soil and reduce weed competition
Dark green celery can be quite bitter to taste. This is okay for cooking, but many people find it unpleasant to eat raw. Excluding light from the stems or “blanching” will produce paler stalks that are much sweeter. When plants are a decent size (close to harvesting), tie the stalks loosely then wrap the stems with thick newspaper, leaving the leaves sticking out at the top. The stalks will be pale and ready to harvest in around 2-3 weeks.
- Celery is a heavy feeder. It also requires lots of water. Make sure to provide plenty of water during the entire growing season, especially during hot, dry weather.
- If celery does not get enough water, the stalks will be dry, and small.
- Add plenty of compost and mulch around the plants to retain moisture.
- Fertilize regularly. Add mulch as needed, to help retain soil moisture and add nutrients.
- Tie growing celery stalks together to keep them from sprawling.
Celery’s main enemies are parsley worms, carrot rust flies, and nematodes. Celery leaf tiers are tiny yellow caterpillars marked with one white stripe; control by hand picking. Attacks of tarnished plant bugs show up as black joints or brown, sunken areas.
- The parts of celery that are harvested are mainly the stalks, which will be above ground.
- Harvest stalks from the outside in. You may begin harvesting when stalks are about 8 inches tall.
- Celery can be kept in the garden for up to a month if soil is built up around it to maintain an ideal temperature.
- Tip: The darker the stalks become, the more nutrients they will contain. Texture changes with color, dark green stalks will be tougher.
- Keep celery in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator. It should be used within two weeks.