The Q&A Archives: Growing Celery

Question: Even though its been a hot summer here, the various celery and celeriacs thrive in my garden. Both the red and Utah celery tastes so mild from my garden. We tasted supermarket celery and it was very salty. Is it the variety they use commercially or some treatment?

Garden books remind us not to plant celery when there is any chance of cooler than fifty degree weather; the experts claim that celery will bolt at the lower temperatures. My celery has never bolted on me during cool summers or at either end of the gardening season--and we have lots of days where it gets below fifty.

Answer: Celery does best in areas with long, moist growing seasons and relatively cool summer temperatures--65 to 75F daytime, 60 to 70 at night. Some of the red varieties actually need quite cool weather--even a frost--to develop their red color. It is true, however, that young plants exposed to temperatures in the 40's for more than a week straight will tend to bolt prematurely.

I'm not sure what the difference with the commercial celery is. Celery does prefer rich soil with lots of organic matter and plenty of potassium. Prolonged dry periods can lead to bitter, tough stalks. Perhaps this was the problem with your store-bought produce.

Congratulations on your celery success! Isn't it nice to prove the "experts" wrong sometimes?

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