Chewy, Stringy Celery?

Conditions have not been ideal for growing celery this summer – it is a thirsty plant, and the long, dry spells have been unfavourable. If you have harvested some recently, only to discover that it is not very tasty at all and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, then read through the three most probable causes below for some tips for better results next year:

  1. Not enough water – celery is a notorious water-guzzler and it really needs a fair amount each week in order to produce the gentle crunch you’re after. We’d really recommend mulching with a good quality compost after planting celery. This is to help retain moisture in the soil during dry spells. Water it thoroughly two to three times a week during the summer, keeping in mind that it generally needs a good 3-4cm of water each week in order to thrive.
  2. Too hot – again, mulching will help to keep the soil temperature more consistent during any heatwaves. With cooler soil, the roots will not get so hot and the plant will not become stressed. If your garden is something of a sun trap, you may wish to add a layer of straw on top of the mulch to further protect the soil from the heat.
  3. Harvesting too late – it is so easy to leave celery too long before harvesting as it is difficult to judge. Our advice would be to harvest in late summer if you planted in spring, and in autumn if you planted a little later. Either way, aim to harvest when the stalks reach 20cm (between soil level and leaves), and before the first frosts. If you’re unsure, remember that harvesting too early is better than harvesting too late, and you can always cut off individual stalks rather than harvesting the entire plant.

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