celery

  • Grow at home: Celery self-blanching or trench: which to choose

    Celery_plant_in_veg_bed

    Growing Celery has traditionally been seen as a labour-intensive task with trenches and blanching to achieve the long pale stems.  There are numerous self blanching varieties such as 'Tall Utah' which make this more straightforward, although possibly resulting in a little less taste - it's worth giving both approaches a try.

    Soil and Aspect

    There are two methods of soil preparation: the trench method and that for self-blanching varieties.

    For trench celery, in Autumn, dig out a trench in a sunny site 40cm wide and 30cm deep and add a layer of well rotted manure to the base.  Back fill with soil and leave to settle over winter.

    Self blanching Celery is planted in blocks rather than rows - dig over the site in Autumn and regularly incorporate plenty of well rotted manure and garden compost over winter.

    Sowing

    Trench varieties are best started off under glass in Rootrainers in early Spring at a temperature of around 15c.  Harden off under cloches two weeks before planting out 30 cm apart in rows in early Summer.

    Self blanching Celery is started off under glass in the same way and hardened off before planting out more closely, in blocks, 20cm apart to help with the blanching.

    Aftercare

    Water thoroughly in dry periods and feed with a liquid feed every two weeks.  When trench celery varieties reach 30cm earth up over part of the stems to exclude light.  Repeat this at three week intervals until the soil is up to the lower leaves.  An alternative to earthing up is to wrap cardboard around the stems.

    For self-blanching celery, place straw around the outside of the block to reduce light on the plants.

    Harvesting and storage

    Trench celery is ready for harvesting in the autumn and onwards into early winter. Harvest as needed but remember that the first frosts will enhance the flavour.  Cover plants in the winter with  Easy Fleece Tunnel or Lantern Cloche and leave in the ground - Self blanching varieties should be lifted in the Autumn.

    Pests and diseases

    Slugs, snails, Celery Fly and Carrot Fly can all be a problem as can diseases such as Celery heart rot - effected plants should be destroyed and not added to the compost heap.  You can avoid split stems by ensuring that you water regularly.

     

     

  • Grow at Home: Companion Planting

    Companion_planting_marigold_red

    Companion Planting

    Companion planting is where two or more crops are grown together for the benefit of one, or all. The most successful combinations mirror nature.  They can be an important part of planning a successful and productive garden.

     

    Deterrent Smell

    Plants have natural affinities with others of their kind.  The smell of volatile oils from many plants can above all discourage pests, making them excellent companion plants. Perhaps the most well known is the relationship between the tomato plant and the strong smelling French Marigold.  This is said to deter whitefly, for instance.

    While there is little scientific proof of these associations working, if you talk to any experienced gardener they will certainly provide plenty of anecdotal evidence.  Tomatoes like to be grown with Basil and Parsley.  Useful for cooks as well as gardeners.  And separating rows of brassicas with onions has always been popular.  This is possibly due to the strong scent of onions confusing the cabbage pests.

    Companion_planting_marigold_carrotsAttracting Pollinators

    English Marigold (Calendula) can provide welcome splashes of colour in the kitchen garden.  The added benefit is that they attract pollinators.  Along with Yarrow (Achillea) and Hyssop they also attract hover flies.  The hover flies will lay their eggs around these plants and when they hatch the larvae feast on aphids.

    Lavender_in_pot_in_flowerEnhancing fragrance

    Some gardeners know Chamomile as the 'plant doctor'.  This is because of its alleged ability to encourage the production of essential oils making their scent and taste stronger. It is attractive and easy to grow so a worthwhile addition to any planting scheme.

    Another garden 'must have' is the super fragrant Lavender. This acts as a general insect repellent whilst still attracting bees to your plot.

    Crops and their Companions

    Different combinations work in different conditions, so experimentation and experience is the best guide. Below are some combinations of crops and their companions that work well in most situations:

    • Asparagus: Tomatoes, Parsley, Basil
    • Beans: Carrots, lettuce,parsley, spinach
    • Beetroot: Onions, cabbages
    • Cabbages: Celery, mint, thyme, onions, nasturtiums
    • Carrots: Peas, radish, chives, onion, leek
    • Courgette: Nasturtiums
    • Lettuce: Strawberry, beetroot, radish
    • Onions: Carrots, beetroot, chamomile, courgette
    • Parship: Garlic
    • Peas: Potatoes, radish, carrot
    • Spinach: Strawberry
    • Tomato: Celery, basil, marigolds, foxglove

2 Item(s)