Stringy relationship

By Lynette L. Walther | Apr 06, 2018
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther Quick and easy to prepare, golden potato soup is satisfying and relies on kitchen staples like potatoes, carrots and onions — the only oddball ingredient is the celery. But growing my own enables me to have celery on hand as well. Find the recipe on my blog: https://gardeningonthego.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/golden-potato-soup/

Celery — you know, that stringy, light green vegetable that makes Waldorf and potato salads worth their salt — is not high on my list of favorite foods. Yes, there are prepared salads (mostly those that involve mayonnaise) like tuna or chicken salad, and the other two I already mentioned, that rely heavily on celery for flavor and crunch. And yeah, there are a few soups, like my quick and easy and creamy potato soup, in which I use celery as well.

But aside from those uses, once I’ve made that potato salad or tuna salad sandwich, that clump of celery I purchased for that particular purpose always seems to languish in my refrigerator’s crisper drawer until it becomes limp and pale. Eventually, most of it ends up in the compost. I guess we just are not eating enough potato or tuna salad or vegetable soup. However, recently I began cheating a bit on the celery scene, and then I discovered something amazing.

Once I’ve used the outside green stalks, and by the time I get down to that yellowish center, I have been trimming the thinest bit off the bottom of the bunch. Next, I put the entire little clump in a glass with an inch or two of water on the bottom. I believe that trimming the bottom enables the water to be taken up by the stalks. The glass goes in a sunny windowsill.

This works great to green it up enough to make it work in yet another recipe, and adds a week or two of “life” to my celery bunch. Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered that my celery in the glass had developed little roots, and that little “lightbulb” of inspiration flashed on. So, of course, I planted it, and lo and behold, it grew, and we have been enjoying perennial-celery ever since!

In recent months celery has been getting some pretty good press as being a beneficial food — not just the necessary crunch in my potato salad. Turns out celery is something of a super-food. Who knew? According to Wikipedia, celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum, as well as a good source of folate, potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and pantothenic acid. It also contains vitamin B2, copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids).

When it comes to growing celery, it would seem my glass of water trick was right on the mark. It would be no coincidence that celery seems to be so full of water. Celery is a marshland plant in the family Apiaceae that has been cultivated as a vegetable since antiquity. Rich soil and plenty of water are essential, as is the regular addition of nutrients. Celery, I have found, tends to splay out as it grows, and online growing sources suggest loosely tying the stalks together to keep that upright form.

When I need a stalk or two for a recipe, I simply go out to the garden and slice off a couple of the outer stalks. The foliage — which is gloriously green — is also a plus, to add flavor, nutrition, fiber and color to the dish. So nothing is wasted. If slugs are a problem in your garden, I suggest growing your celery in a pot instead of the ground. This I learned from experience, as my garden’s lusty slugs completely devoured my initial attempt at growing sprouted celery the first night after I planted it in the ground.

Needless to say, water-rich celery does not fare well during freezing temperatures, but as the weather warms, move containers outdoors into a sunny location, and remember to keep them watered. I’d like to think I may never have to buy celery again.

While celery may not be my favorite vegetable, I would like to know what vegetable is your favorite to grow. Send me an email at: foggykingdm@gmail.com.

Resurrecting a limp bunch of store-bought celery, when sprouted in water, can eventually yield an individual plant that can supply a small household with stalks of celery when needed. (Photo by: Lynette L. Walther)
Celery can easily be grown from seed, especially good if your household uses a lot of this healthful vegetable. (Photo by: Lynette L. Walther)
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