We go through a lot of celery. That’s nearly 2 bunches a week. It goes in salads, soups, stews… the occasional ants on a log…and sometimes, just to munch. I mean, it’s like negative calories. The amount of jaw muscle work and digestive hoo haas going on far over-reach the measly 7 calories per stalk.
But that leaves me with a bounty of these little celery stalk butts. Yes, I know it’s still celery… but the color is all wrong and to be completely honest, it doesn’t really taste like much of anything.
You remember back in grade school when you stuck toothpicks in potatoes and suspended them over water to watch them grow leggy, useless plants? Or the carrot tops left rotting in jelly jar lids? I found out you can do pretty much the same thing with celery butts…. only instead of a pile of non-producing potato stems – you can get actual – edible – celery! And it only takes about 4 weeks.
To do this, you have to understand a couple of basics:
1). American celery is not the same thing as Celeriac (Celery Root). For the most part Conquistador or Tall Utah are grown in the States as Americans prefer the taller, crisp green stalks. These varieties do produce a small-ish root tuber, but it won’t be terribly palatable. Celery Root (or turnip celery) is grown more wide-spread in Europe and the UK as they do better in cooler, wetter climates…. meaning, don’t expect to get a beautiful root off your plant.
2). Celery is a cool season Biannual plant. Since what we are doing is continuing the first growing season, it will not bolt and produce seeds.
3). Celery likes wet, wet, boggy surroundings. You’ll need to keep it well watered and well fed in order to produce something more than weedy stalks.
So, to plant your butt –
Clean down all but the inner-most immature stalks (the ones about 4″ in length)
Site out a good, shady spot in your garden. (I plant mine amongst the strawberry plants and Brussels Sprouts in order to provide good cover and some dappled light.) Prepare the garden patch with a good quality potting soil, composted cow manure, and peat moss – in equal proportions.
Dig a hole 1/2 the depth of the planting stalk and pack the soil around the root stump.
Within a week, the existing stalks will begin to darken and grow. At about 3 weeks you can start harvesting the more mature stalks for use in salads. (Harvesting will promote new growth.)
As the stalks reach 8 to 10″, you will need to collar the stalks. This will keep critters from snacking on them as well as forcing the stalks to grow upright and to form sturdy, tighter clusters. Replace the collars as the stalks grow 8 to 10″ above the first collar.
In about 45 days your celery is ready to harvest. Go ahead and uproot the plant completely. In most areas of the States, celery will not winter over very well as they are highly susceptible to frost.