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Celery
Celery is a vegetable that is popular with the health conscious. It is almost absent of calories, yet contains important vitamins and minerals. Despite their very mild flavor, people much on them all day long. While some people complain that it has little taste, it's that mild taste that makes it such a great tool for dipping into your favorite dip, salad dressing, or sauce. It also adds a little crunch to recipes.

Did you Know? Celery has negative calories? Being almost absent of calories, the process of eating consumes calories, netting you a negative calorie meal or snack! Celery is not commonly found in the home garden, despite the fact that is is a very common item in the grocery store.The reason is because celery is a little more difficult to grow than the common garden fruits and vegetables.

Celery requires a longer growing season, lots of water, and prefers cooler temperatures. Without the proper care and conditions, Celery stalks can be very dry and stringy. The more demanding conditions and attention that celery needs, sometimes causes home growers to rise to the challenge. A high proportion of growers look for a different vegetable or variety each year, as a challenge to their gardening skills.

Why not make growing celery your next challenge? Celery originated in the Mediterranean. It has been grown as a food crop for thousands of years. It has also had many other uses dating back to ancient times, including medicine, funerals and more.

Varieties: There are a limited number of varieties of celery on the market. Varieties that require blanching are little used in the home garden, as they require a lot of extra work. As previously mentioned, it is difficult to find them in seed catalogues and are usually available as seedlings in garden stores. You may even have to shop around for seedlings as many garden stores will not carry them.

We recommend you start seedlings indoors. The seeds are very tiny, difficult to sow, and later to thin. In addition, the longer growing season may necessitate an indoor start. Sow seeds in individual pots or containers. As the seed is very tiny, put as few as possible into each pot. After they have germinated and are large enough to thin, remove all but two or three.

As they continue to grow, thin to one per pot(individual slot). Transplant outdoors after the last date for frost in your area. Space plants one foot apart, in rows 2 to 2 1/2 feet apart.

Celery is a heavy feeder. It also requires lots of water. Make sure to provide plenty of water during the entire growing season, especially during hot, dry weather. If celery does not get enough water, the stalks will be dry, and small. Add plenty of compost and mulch around the plants to retain moisture. Add general purpose fertilizer as you work the soil before planting ,and fertilize regularly. Add mulch as needed, to help retain soil moisture and add nutrients.

Harvest after the stalks have reached a foot or more. The outside stalks may be discarded or used in soups if undamaged by slug and other insects. The inner stalks are more tender and taste best uncooked. Hardiness: Celery is susceptible to both spring and fall frost. Set plants outdoors after the last frost date for your area. Because they require a long growing period, be prepared to cover your crop in the early fall to protect them against frost just prior to the maturing of the plant. If frost does damage the plant, the inner leaves should still be good.
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