BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
Known as kintsay in the Philippines, celery (Apium graveolens) is a vegetable that’s rich in vitamin C for stronger immunity, beta-carotene which promotes better vision, and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. Its crunchy stalks contain not less than 12 additional antioxidants and nutrients that contribute greatly to a person’s health.
Celery is commonly used as an additional ingredient in Pinoy recipes like stir-fry, soup, and sometimes in noodle dishes.
To grow celery at home and harness its numerous health benefits and distinct flavor, prepare the following materials: loam soil, carbonized rice hull, vermicast, a polybag or plastic bag, a seedling tray, celery seeds, and a shovel.
First, prepare the celery seeds and the soil media. The ideal soil mix consists of carbonized rice hull, loam soil, and vermicast with a ratio of 1:1:1. The healthy growth of the celery plants relies greatly on the type of soil media which is why the soil must be packed with nutrients.
Make a seedbed to promote proper growth. This can be done by transferring the soil mix into an old basin or a polybag using a shovel. Scatter the celery seeds in the seedbed.
After two weeks, check if the seeds sprouted two to three leaves. If they do, then the seedlings can be transferred to a seedling tray.
Start by putting vermicast on the seedling tray and poke holes in each one before transferring the celery seedlings. Water the seedlings in the tray and transfer them to a cool and shaded area.
Tips on caring for celery plants
By two weeks, the seedlings should start growing more leaves. If they have four to five leaves, then it’s time for them to be transplanted.
Get a polybag and fill it with soil mix. Then, carefully transfer the celery seedlings into their new planters. Each seedling should have its own polybag.
Remember to water the plants twice a week and make sure that the water reaches the plants’ roots.
One week after the seeds have been transplanted, they can be given additional inputs to boost their growth. For a conventional manner, place one tablespoon of a complete fertilizer with a ratio of 14-14-14. And for a natural approach, add one tablespoon of vermicast.
The celery plants should also be sprayed twice a week with fermented plant juice (FPJ) and fermented fruit juice (FFJ) from transplanting to harvesting to increase their resistance against pests and diseases.
Some of the pests that frequent celery plants are aphids and nematodes. Meanwhile, leaf blight is a common disease that affects them.
Fortunately, these can be easily controlled by making homemade pesticides by mixing one tablespoon of neem oil and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid in one liter of water. Transfer the solution into a sprayer and apply directly to the affected parts.
Three months after transplanting, the celery plants can be harvested.
Celery plants have several benefits for a person’s health. And consumers can easily access these benefits by growing the plants right in their homes.
The topic of how to grow celery was discussed on AgriTalk 2021, where the series of webinars focused on how to grow different crops.