5.01.2012

Celery Starts

I love gardening.  What I don't love is the cost of gardening.  So when I see an interesting idea that involves taking waste and turning it into a new plant, I get super excited. :)

A few months ago, I was cruising around on Pinterest (because that's what happens when you have a Pinterest account... eek!) and I stumbled upon an idea for growing celery using the discarded end.  Obviously, I bookmarked it.  Flash forward a few months and guess what I have out in my veggie garden?  This little sweetie...

My little celery start thriving in the garden!

So here is how we started.  My mom is on a juicing kick that has turned into a juicing lifestyle (yes, she still eats real food too.)  As a side note, it was largely inspired by the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (which I totally recommend watching).  Even if you don't end up juicing, the movie calls you to think about what we put into our bodies and the impact it has on our health.  All that to say, my mom goes through celery at a pretty good clip.  Anyway, I had her save a few ends for me.  I simply set them in water and within two days, the cut ends started to raise up a bit in the center.

Day two for the top celery, day three for the bottom one.

A few more days went by (and one more end-cut added) and little tiny leaves began to emerge on my first celery start!  It was at this point The Captain and I began to show just about everyone who walked in the door.

Day 2 (top right) vs. Day 7 (bottom)

A few weeks later and one more celery added.  It was about this time when I noticed new little roots shooting off the bottom of my oldest start.  Very exciting!

Well, it was about this stage when I could no longer contain my excitement and the allure of spring weather in Seattle called to me.  So I planted the darn things.  Big mistake.  A few unexpected dips below 55 degrees and half my crop was annihilated.  The little babes were not hearty enough.  So here are my tips for you:

1.  Make sure to leave enough of the end so that the center can regrow.  This is super important.  Your celery end will not regrow properly without it.  If you skip this part, your celery will look like the two "freeform" specimens below.

Notice the height difference?  The centers of the two on the left were cut too short and regrew from the outer stalks.

2.  If you're like me and you don't want to waste any of the goodness, peal off the stalks until you're only left with a few in the center.  Then you can lop off the top, stick it in a bowl of water and watch the magic happen!

3.  Do not submerge the celery past the root.  If the stalks are left hanging out in the water, they will get all mushy and gross.  As the celery starts to grow, I pealed back the remaining outer layers.  It looked a bit tidier and didn't impact growth.  It also prevented the outer celery stalks from sitting in water.

4.  If you rush the babies outside and the temp starts to dip, simply grab your largest drinking glass or even a small bowl and pop it on top of the celery start.  I didn't think of this until after the low temps had picked off three of mine, but basically you want to create a make-shift greenhouse.  It's advisable not to put it on later than 3pm or leave it on later than 10am.  You want your celery to retain some of the afternoon heat, but you don't want to suffocate the poor thing and hold too much moisture on the leaves.

5.  When all else fails, start again!  You will have wonderfully spaced plantings that will allow each one to grow and be harvested a few days and/or weeks apart.  As a bonus, you'll look super smart for doing so.

So there you have it!  A super easy veggie to start and a fun project for the kiddos too.  I hope to be munching on plenty of yummy celery this year!

xo, k

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