A couple of years ago I planted celery in the garden and was blown away by how flavorful it was. Sharp and spicy, this celery didn’t taste anything like produce market celery. In subsequent years I didn’t replant it but this spring I was determined to reverse that course.
In March, I started two varieties of celery indoors. The first, standard cutting celery, is similar to what you would find in the produce aisle, but with much sharper flavor and stalks that do not get quite as thick as commercially grown varieties (at least they don’t for me). This is a go-to celery for everything from a mirepoix to salads… or if you are my children, slathering with peanut butter.
On other note, I don’t cut the head of celery off when I need it. I prefer to pull off however many stalks I need and this allows the plant to continue growing well into the fall. Considering that the first stalks will be ready to harvest in late July, that is a really long harvest period.
You can sow indoors and move outside after the last frost, or sow directly outside providing you are past the cold spring weather. Plant shallow and don’t let it get dry, it does require sunlight to sprout. I also found that I could plant it close together to maximize yield per square foot.
The second variety is Par-Cel and it’s really interesting. It grows like parsley but tastes like celery. This variety is ridiculously easy to grow and you can use it like an herb rather than traditional celery. I mix this in with the cutting celery and end up with a rich and lush section in my raised beds. I like the convenience of Par-Cel but would not plant it to the exclusion of traditional celery, if for no other reason than I find the flavor a little sharp and almost bitter. To say it tastes like celery is accurate but it is not a straight substitute for cutting celery.
Garden grown celery is not an exotic vegetable insofar as it is also available in any produce aisle. The primary reason why I devote square footage to it is that the flavor is so far beyond produce aisle celery that I simply cannot imagine not having it at this time of the year.