CELERY (Apium gxaveolens)
In its wild state, Celery is a marsh plant found in ditch bottoms and wild, swampy places. It is for that reason that it is usually grown in gardens in trenches where moisture can be given in liberal quantities. To grow Celery is a test of a gardener’s skill, but the crop is so much appreciated when it is well grown that it is worth giving every attention to it.
Celery can be grown in any kind ofif it is very deeply dug and well prepared. The preparation of trenches should be begun in winter. The trenches can be opened out about in. wide, or if double rows are grown together, about in. wide, with 3 or 4 ft. between the sides of rows.
The soil is taken out to a depth of in. and the bottom well broken with a large fork. On this is thrown about 9 in. of very well-rotted manure. Those who live in seaside districts can use 9 in. of rotted seaweed, which is an excellent manure for this crop. Four inches of good prepared soil and a dusting of lime completes the preparation of the trench.
Meanwhile, about the middle of February,is done under glass. Seeds can be sown either in pots or boxes in ordinary seed-sowing . They need only the finest covering of soil or sand. The pots should be kept reasonably moist.
As soon as the tiny leaves have formed, theare pricked out into boxes of richer soil, setting them about 3 in. apart each way and keeping them as near the glass of the frame as possible.
Ventilate on all possible occasions as the hardier the plants are grown the better they will succeed when they are planted out. If seedlings are well hardened off they can probably be planted out in May or June. Use a trowel for transplanting, and keep a ball of soil intact round the roots. Set the plants 12-in. Apart, make the soil firm round them, and then soak the soil surface with water. At the same time as the celery is planted out in the trenches, small Lettuce plants can be set on the ridges. These will grow rapidly and be cut before it is time to earth up the celery.
Celery should not be allowed to get dry at any time, and after occasional watering, weak doses of liquid manure, especially that made from animal droppings and soot, will be beneficial. A dusting of soot over the foliage of the plants helps to ward off the celery fly which is one of the chief pests of this crop.
Earthing up is a most important process in the cultivation of celery. It does not begin until the plants have grown practically their full size, but the time occupied in process is usually six or eight weeks. It is done in easy stages. The first stage is to draw the stalks together with soft string or raffia, and to surround them with a paper collar. The soil is then drawn up against the paper to a depth of a few inches. In about another week or so the collar can be pulled up a little higher, and more soil banked up against it. This is repeated until the soil and paper are right up to the crown of leaves. If celery remains until after the winter frosts have arrived, it may be necessary in very exposed districts to give a little protection to the plants. Clean straw or old bracken spread over the celery bed will be sufficient.
Varieties most suitable for cultivation are: “Dwarf Pink,” “Dwarf White,” “Aldenham Pink,” and “Giant Red.”
When staged for exhibition, celery should be lifted the day before the Show, washed and trimmed of roots and outside leaves.