Do you crave the crunchy snap of fresh, top-notch celery? Unfortunately, it’s hard to get good organically grown celery, and commercially grown celery tends to be contaminated with relatively high concentrations of pesticide residues—more so, in fact, than most other vegetables. The solution, of course, is to grow your own.
Planting Organic Celery
We have to admit that celery isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow organically, but it can be done, and the rewards are rich. First of all, because it was originally a marsh plant, celery requires a very fertile, moderately acidic soil pH of 5.8-6.7, with plenty of water and excellent drainage. The best way to start is to prepare a trench 18 inches wide and deep about a week before planting day, and half fill it with a mixture of compost and well-rotted manure. If you decide to prepare multiple trenches, space them at least 4-5 inches apart.
Next, sprinkle a little lime or gypsum into the trenches, because celery also needs calcium; but be aware that if you add too much, you’ll ruin the acidity of the soil, because calcium compounds are alkaline. After a week or so, plant your seedlings, and fill the trench up with mulch. This assumes, of course, that you’ve started the seedlings indoors and that they’ve been properly hardened off before transplanting. Otherwise, the plants may bolt prematurely. The seedlings themselves should be about 3-4 inches tall at planting, spaced a foot apart.
Growing Organic Celery
Water the celery copiously and consistently thereafter, and feed it liquid seaweed, fish meal, or worm cast fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Keep an eye on the mulch, and be sure to replenish it whenever it appears necessary. Harvest your celery once it’s reached a little more than a foot in height. FYI, the inner stalks are the tastiest!