Thursday, March 1, 2012

Growing Heirloom Celery in Kihei

Although celery is a cool season crop it can be grown all year in Kihei. I've grown 8 varieties of heirloom celery and all have been somewhat tough and slightly bitter, even when grown during our coolest months. However, all of the varieties have been good for cooking or juicing with other garden veggies.

Dorado Gigante and Giant Red Reselection

I've yet to grow celery that looks like the celery at the market. I did experiment with newspaper and cardboard collars to force the stalks to grow upright but this method created too much heat and the center stalks rotted. Now, I let celery grow naturally and use it as a cut and come again type of plant.

4 months from seed and ready to cut

D'elne was the only variety of celery that I've grown that developed stalks that were as wide as a typical market celery. The others had stalks that were less than an inch wide near the base, even after the plants were growing as long as a year.

I plant celery in 5 gallon self-watering containers that are available at Wal-Mart. I fill them with an organic potting soil amended with green sand and an organic all-purpose fertilizer. The seeds usually take several weeks before they begin to germinate and the seedlings are very tiny at first. After the seedlings begin to grow, I thin them to just one plant per container.

Celery needs a lot of water once it gets growing. I usually fertilize the plants with a bi-weekly application of fish emulsion. In the cooler months it can be grown in full sun. However it can be grown in diffused light or partial shade during the hotter months. Celery isn't bothered by any destructive worms or larvae. None of the celery I've grown has bolted and gone to seed.


  1. A very interesting post. My celery is only a month only. Mine are self blanching variety. Currently they have only about four baby sticks. Yours look really lush. I suppose you could let it grow a little taller.

  2. This post is timely for me. I grew celeriac last year, LOVED it. Above ground it looked a lot like your celery but it has a larger root system. The root has a nutty flavor, not bitter at all. I chunk it up and add it to soup. I like using the upper stalks like everyone else uses celery and parsley. This year I am giving celery a go. A red celery and one from an Italian import company. Why Italian? A blogger in Idaho wrote that he never got sweet celery from his garden until he exchanged seed with an Australian friend. The Australian friend's celery had the expected flavor and texture right away. I am hoping that just because my seed is not from the states that it will be a good one. We shall see.

    In addition, my Idaho blogger pots his celery up in fall (do you get seasons in Hawaii? I feel stupid asking but people leave Washington State in winter to get a tan in Hawaii, so I don't really know) His pots go into the dark, cool root cellar where they blanch and get even sweeter through the winter. If there is any left in spring he puts them back in the garden to keep him in celery until his new plants take off.

    Anyway, thanks, and good growing to you

  3. Hi Sri! I hope your celery grows well and isn't bitter. Mine is always tough and somewhat bitter due to the climate - it's in the 80's most of the time.

    Hi Rainsong! I haven't tried to grow celeriac - it sounds great. Two of the celeries I grew, Dorado and D'elne, were from Italy but they weren't sweet either. In my case it's the climate. We don't really have seasons - just slightly cooler weather in the late fall/early winter. Some years it's cooler than others and those years my fall/winter gardens grow so much better. Interesting about blanching celery through the winter.

  4. Hi, your celery looks beautiful! I've just grown celery too and I tried the blanching technique to get the white stem but my plant had begun to wilt instead. I quickly removed the cardboard and am happy to eat them green, although slightly bitter. I have 2 more plants growing and am using them as cut and grow again rather than pulling out the whole plant. My celery plants are so precious to me and I'm just so glad I could grow them in the extreme hot temperature in my country. I also don't mind getting skinny stems...unlike those sold at supermarkets :)

  5. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for the update. I tried growing celery many years ago without much success. I'll have to try growing them in containers.

    I took a cue from one of your previous posts on growing carrots in containers: I planted some back in December, and I had a much better germination rate (about 30% compared to 10% when I sowed them in the ground). They're doing well.

    My sister sent me some pictures of the fig trees at home on Maui. The fruit looks almost ready to pick and eat! I hope your trees are doing well too.


  6. Hi petite! That's great that you can grow celery at your latitude. I was surprised I could grow celery at 22 degrees north. I like cut and come again types of veggies - they're so convenient! I don't mind skinny celery stalks either - they work fine for cooking.

    Hi Chicago! I've had great success with most veggies growing them in containers - I'm glad your carrots are doing well. I updated my fig tree blog-post and added a photo of the Brown Turkey, Black Jack and White Kadota figs - it might help you identify your tree. My fig trees are growing really well. Since writing my fig post I added 4 more trees to my collection. I love figs! I bet your figs will be ono!