Grow Celery from Grocery Store Stalks (Plus, How to Preserve Celery!)

Grow Celery from Grocery Store StalksWhen we first moved to our mountaintop homestead nearly five years ago, there was little in the way of vegetable gardens. Only a handful of edibles grew in a couple of square boxes made from old pallets...and in one of those boxes, there was a single celery plant growing. Just one. So I thought, "I'll bet they started that from grocery store stalks." Because yes, you CAN do that! In fact, since that time, I've done it repeatedly, with 100 percent success...even when the celery has been sitting in my fridge, limp and wilted, for a couple of months! Just be sure you're using a whole, harvested celery plant - not individual cut off stalks. (In other words, look for celery that's attached at the base, as in the photo to the right.)

How to Root Store Bought Celery

1. Cut the stalks off the celery plant. (I recommend using or preserving those stalks right away. Don't toss the leaves! You can use them in any dish that benefits from celery flavor. I like to turn the leaves into celery salt.)

2. Once the stalks are removed, you're left with a celery "base."  Place this base in a shallow bowl.

3. Add some water to the bowl. The very bottom of the celery base must be submerged at all times.

Celery base sitting in a bowl of water. Notice there are three roots growing from the right hand side. These developed in the bowl of water.

4. Place the bowl in an out of the way location. It doesn't need direct sun, but I wouldn't put it in the dark, either. I place mine on the kitchen counter.

5. Check the celery base every day, to ensure the water has not evaporated.If needed, add a bit more water.

6. Once you see several longish roots coming from the celery base, remove the base from the bowl and plant the celery, leaving the top of the base exposed above the soil.

Tips for Growing Celery

* Celery grows best in rich soil that drains well.

Maturing celery. Courtesy of John Tann.
* Celery grows just fine in large pots.

* Celery likes part shade or full sun. If your temps tend to be over 80 degrees, give celery dappled shade. Or put it under a shade cloth.

* Celery is a marshland plant, so it likes lots of water. Don't let it the soil completely dry out or you'll end up with pithy or hollow stalks. Adding mulch around your celery plant is helpful in retaining moisture.

* Harvest your celery as it grows. Cut off what you need at the base of the plant, leaving at least seven center stalks on the plant at all times. 

Celery grown from grocery store trimmings.

* Store bought celery is always "blanched" - meaning part of the plant is covered up to prevent photosynthesis. I never blanch my home grown celery and I find the flavor SO much better than store bought! But if you like very mild-tasting celery, or you live in a hot climate (which may cause your celery to taste bitter), do blanch your celery two to three weeks before you think you'll harvest. There are several ways to do this; one easy way is to wrap the stalks with newspaper, held in place lightly with string. Another easy method is to cut the top and bottom out of clean, waxed milk cartons and place one carton over each celery plant. The traditional blanching method is to mound soil over the celery stalks. Remember in all cases to keep the leaves of the plant uncovered.

* I let my celery go to seed. When some of those seeds thrive and new celery plants start to grow where nature planted them, I let the baby plants get a good start, then dig them up and transplant them.

* It's fine to collect celery seeds, too, but they are notoriously difficult to sprout. Try starting the tiny seeds in a sandy soil, then cover the them with the tiniest amount of potting soil.

ng them with sand and then sprinkle the sand-seed mix over the potting soil. Cover the seeds with just a little bit of soil. Celery seeds like to be planted shallowly

Read more at Gardening Know How: Tips On How To Grow Celery
ng them with sand and then sprinkle the sand-seed mix over the potting soil. Cover the seeds with just a little bit of soil. Celery seeds like to be planted shallowly

Read more at Gardening Know How: Tips On How To Grow Celery

* If you live in a location that's not ideal for growing celery (due to hot or very cold temperatures), you're probably better off looking for a variety of celery that grows well in your area. Likely, that is not a grocery store variety.

How to Preserve Celery

* Celery stalks store in the refrigerator for a few weeks; whole plants can last two or even three months. Keeping the base of the celery plant wrapped in a damp paper towel can extend this storage time. Celery "scraps" (the leaves or the base of the stalk) make an excellent addition to bone broth or stock. I throw these scraps in a bag and keep them in the freezer (along with carrot leaves and onion scraps) until I'm ready to make stock.

* Celery stalks and leaves freeze well. Just chop and put in freezer bags.

* Celery leaves and stalks also dehydrate well. See this post for more details.

Dehydrating celery leaves.
 * Celery also freeze dries very well.

Freeze drying chopped celery stalks (and cheese).

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