Celery is believed to be originally from the Mediterranean basin. Ancient literature documents that celery, or a similar plant form, was cultivated for medicinal purposes before 850 B.C. It’s claimed medicinal purposes were probably attributable to it’s volatile oils, contained in all portions, but mostly the seed. During ancient times physicians used celery seed to treat colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, various types of arthritis, and liver and spleen ailments. Woven garlands of wild celery are reported to have been found in early Egyptian tombs. Modern research has proven celery seed to be a diuretic. Diuretic substances are used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Research has also shown that celery seed helps decrease blood sugar levels and might be useful in treating diabetes.

Modern herbalists believe celery seed aids digestion, increases appetite and may also alleviate the discomforts of rheumatism. Celery is challenging because it needs a long time to grow - up to 130or 140 days of mostly cool weather - and it's quite demanding when it comes to water. Muck soils are ideal because of their high moisture-holding capacity. If you have such an area, you owe it to yourself to grow celery. If you don't have such an area available, use a thick mulch and keep the soil as moist as possible. A pH of 5.2-6.5 is required for good production. Fertile, well drained mineral soils are also suitable where sufficient water can be provided throughout the growing season. Sandy soils are not recommended. The roots of celery plants are limited, usually stretching just six to eight inches away from the plant and only two to three inches deep, so the top part of the soil not only has to have enough moisture, it must also contain all the nutrients the plants need.

Celery plants don't like hot weather at all. The crop will thrive only where the winters are mild, or where the summers are relatively cool, or where there's a long, cool growing period in the fall. Celery can be a challenge to grow from seed. The seeds are tiny, they take about two weeks to germinate, and the small seedlings develop rather slowly. So patience is essential when growing celery. The long growing season, together with the attention needed by the tiny seedlings, means that celery is best started indoors early in spring or late winter. Because celery takes such a long time to grow, in most parts of the country it's best to start the seeds in plant boxes or flats indoors to get a jump on the season. Celery seeds are slow to germinate, so soak them overnight to speed up the process. Plant them indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. The tiny seeds are left on the surface or covered with a pinch of soil. It is sometimes helpful to cover the seedswith a damp paper towel or place the planting container in a plastic bag to help keep the seed moist. When the plants are two inches tall, transplant them to individual peat pots or to another, deeper, flat with new potting soil. If you use flats, put the plants at least two inches apart.

Transplant celery to the garden as early as a week or two before the last frost date. Plants should be four to six inches high when you set them out. Be sure to harden plants off first for a week to 10 days to get them used to spring weather. It the weather turns cold after you set your celery out (night temperatures consistently under 55F for about two weeks), the plants may go to seed prematurely. But because of the need for a long growing season, it's often worth the gamble to set at least some plants out early. To transplant celery, first work the soil, mixing in a good organic fertilizer. Remove some of the outside leaves from each plant before setting them in. As with head lettuce, this trimming helps the roots recover from the transplant shock and resume normal growth more quickly. Space the plants about eight inches apart, setting them a little deeper than they were growing in the flat. Mulch the plants after they're about six inches tall to help keep the soil moist and roots cool. It will also help to keep down weeds, which is important because celery grows slowly and doesn't appreciate any competition from weeds. If you don't mulch, be careful not to weed too deeply near plants. Celery has a shallow root system that can be harmed by deep cultivation. Side dressing with a balanced fertilizer or manure tea in the second and third month of growth will help keep celery growing steadily. Continue to apply manure tea weekly as you water the plants. Give your plants plenty of water. If celery is short on moisture, or a hot spell hits, the stalks get tough and stringy. They can also develop hollow or pithy stalks in dry spells. When celery gets big enough to eat, start harvesting the larger, outer stalks as you need them. The center will keep producing stalks.

To harvest big plants at the end of the season, simply pull up the whole plant and trim off the roots. Unblanched celery has a deeper green color and a stronger flavor than blanched celery, and it's higher in nutrition. If you prefer the taste of blanched celery, try one of the self-blanching varieties, such as 'Golden Self-Blanching'. To blanch celery, open the tops and bottoms of half-gallon milk cartons and use them as "sleeves." Set the cartons over the plants a week, 10 days or even longer before you want to harvest. The color of the stalks will lighten, and their flavor will become milder. Some people place boards close along each side of the row to blanch celery. Others simply bring soil or mulch up around the plant to block out the sun, although this method may let dirt fall into the interior of the stalks, making them hard to clean. Plants should be dry if blanched with soil or else they may rot. There’s no need to blanch the top leaves, of course, just the stalks.

Celery stores really well - you can keep it for many weeks with no trouble. Dig up the plants carefully, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Replant them in boxes of sand in your root cellar or set them close together in a trench in your cold frame where you can keep them from freezing. As long as the roots stay moist and the stalks dry, they'll really keep. Temperatures in the range of 35 to 40F are best for good storage.

Although considered a biennial, it can bolt to seed the first year if seedlings are chilled. The umbrels of white flowers are cross pollinated by insects. Celery will cross with celeriac. To save seeds select firm, thick stalked plants in fall and dig them carefully, any cuts or bruises will hasten spoilage. Store plants in soil in theroot cellar, basement or unheated spare room, and keep them evenly moist. Replant the celery in rich, moist but well drained soil. The seeds shatter very readily. Either make frequent seed collecting rounds or spread a “fall out” cloth around the base of the plant.


Celeriac is a close relative of celery that is grown for its large fleshy root rather than for its stems. The flavor is milder than celery, but definitely the same taste. The consistency is similar to that of radishes, but not quite as crisp. Celeriac can be used in any soup or stuffing recipe that calls for celery, and makes a fine addition to salads as well. If you like the taste of celery, but are bothered by the sometimes tough and stringy texture, you have to try celeriac. Starting celeriac seed is essentially the same as starting celery. The tiny seed is just pressed into the surface of the soil or barely covered with soil. It must be kept moist and will usually germinate in about two weeks. The plants start out very small and grow slowly at first. Getting plants established directly out in the garden is challenging because of the tiny seed and long growth period. It is difficult to keep the tiny plants clear of the vigorous weeds that will appear in most gardens.

Like celery, celeriac is a heavy feeder and will grow best in soil that has been generously amended with plenty of compost or well composted manure. Side dressing periodically during the growing season with an organic fertilizer high in nitrogen is also helpful. Celeriac loves wet soil. You cannot water it too much, and a thick layer of mulch will help tremendously in keeping soil conditions favorable for celeriac. Celeriac can be harvested in late summer or early fall. Generally, the longer you leave them in the garden, the larger the root will grow, and they seldom get tough or woody when large, as some root crops will. The first few frosts won't bother the plants any, so the main harvest can wait until after the last of the warm weather crops have been picked. They will keep for several weeks in a cool cellar or in the refrigerator. I find that the roots are usually covered with small hairs that hold a lot of soil, so it is best to rinse them off outside with a hose rather than bringing all that dirt inside.


Here's a recipe to make your own powdery mildew control spray:

· 1 tablespoon baking soda

· 1 quart water

· a few drops of liquid soap

Spray every couple of days to prevent the spread of the disease. Before treating your plants, test the spray on a few leaves to make sure they are not too sensitive.


Sow radish seeds in cucumber and squash beds, and you will not be troubled with the vines being eaten by striped cucumber beetles. As the radishes grow, they may be pulled for the table, for by that time the danger of the bugs affecting the cucumbers and squash will be past. The radish seems to possess a natural pungency that is effective in driving away the bugs.


Fall is the best time to plant garlic. Use the biggest cloves from bulbs purchased for that reason; or from a supermarket. Plant at least one month before the ground freezes, with the pointed end up. Garlic prefers full sun and rich, well-drained soil. A mulch can prevent cloves from heaving with spring thaws.




sow in a seed bed outdoors in springs, or take cuttings in late summer, and plant in full sun in well drained soil with a little lime. Also called herb of grace.


grow in well-drained, rich soil, in full sun and with shelter form cold winds. Propagate from cuttings in spring and summer, or by layering (mounding for older bushes). Nip off points of shoots to induce bushy growth, and renew every 4-5 years as shrubs become leggy.

(Common) Elder (Berry)

usually harvested as a wild plant, but may be grown in almost any soil and position (variegated forms best positioned in full sun for maximum color). Propagate by hardwood cuttings, easily rooted outdoors in autumn, or by suckers.


Wild Edibles


Alyssum, or sweet alyssum as it is most commonly called, is a well known plant that is related to the mustard family. It grows in low clumps, usually just a few inches tall, rarely over a foot tall. The plant is mildly aromatic. The blossom, leaves and tender stems are all good additions to your salad bowl. Entire flower clusters can be picked and eaten raw. Adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flowers to your salads imparts a mildly hot, watercress-like flavor. The flowers, leaves and tender sections of the stems can also be mixed into cooked foods, such as omelettes, soups stews, and vegetable dishes. While an annual in the northern states, it is almost a perennial in arid areas like southern California. Where it can be found growing wild along many hiking trails.



“Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.”




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