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Why Grow Celeriac?
Successful celeriac organic gardening does take time and some effort, but the resultant vegetable is a unique and flavorful addition to winter dishes. Celeriac, or Alpum graveolens rapaceum, is in the same family of vegetables as celery, parsley, carrots, and parsnips. The knobbly, fleshy, whitish-brown bulb has the pleasing flavor of celery, but the hardiness of a root vegetable, similar to parsnips and potatoes. Growing organic celeriac in your backyard is a great way to have fresh, organic produce on the household menu without taxing the environment with unnecessary transportation or the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
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Celeriac requires a long growing season, with some amount of time in the ground in cooler weather for optimal flavor. This vegetable can be started indoors in the very end of winter or beginning of spring and harvested in the fall. In warmer climates a second harvest can be started in the early fall with the use of an insulating mulch such as straw, and harvested in the spring.
- Start the seedlings indoors about ten weeks before the danger of the last spring frost.
- Thin to one plant per module once the seedlings have sprouted.
- Begin hardening the young plants one week to ten days before transplanting — leave the plants outside for two hours the first day, four hours the next, six the third day and so on until they have spent an entire day outdoors.
- Transplant after they have been hardened and there is no danger of frost, probably in April or May.
- Towards the end of July the outer leaves can be removed.
- When the celeriac bulbs have grown to a size of three to four inches across they can be harvested. If they are still in the ground as the weather cools, lay four inches of straw over the soil around the plants to insulate the ground. Leaving the celeriac in the ground during a light, early frost will increase the flavor.
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Tips and Guidelines
Growing organic celeriac requires time, but also optimal conditions. The major requirements of this plant are soil with lots of organic material and adequate watering with good soil drainage.
- Fold compost into the soil while the seedlings are growing indoors. Add another round of compost to the soil sometime during the summer.
- When planting the seeds, use 1/8-inch depth. When transplanting the small plants, plant to a depth of three to four inches, mounding the earth around the bulbs when they become exposed.
- Space between nine and twelve inches apart.
- Add a nutrient-rich, organic mulch when growing outside.
- Keep the top few inches of soil moist. A heavy rain or heavy watering once a week should be enough.
- Weed regularly or use mulch to control weeds. As celeriac requires a lot of nutrients and water, the plants will have trouble growing if they have to compete with weeds.
- Plenty of sunlight is optimal, but partial shade is fine for growing organic celeriac.
- For beneficial companion planting grow alongside lettuce, spinach and English peas. Avoid proximity to squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins.
Following these simple guidelines celeriac organic gardening can be a successful endeavor. Enjoy this vegetable sliced raw in salads and cole slaws, add to hearty soups and stews, even throw the leaves into dishes to add flavor. You will love the taste of organic celeriac, and the nutritional value over store-bought celery and root vegetables.
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"How to Grow Celeriac." (Harvest to Table) <http://www.harvestwizard.com/2009/03/how_to_grow_celeriac.html>
"Organic Gardening: How to grow organic celeriac." (Garden Zone) <http://www.gardenzone.info/crops/celeriac.php>
Don, Monty. "Celebrating celeriac: Rediscover the taste of British winter." (Daily Mail) <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/gardening/article-1101936/Celebrating-celeriac-Rediscover-taste-British-winter.html>
photo by: Cozygreeneyes (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/43328246@N00/4315497903/>
photo by: Julie Stonesoup (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/stone-soup/836582622/>