Celery is one of the most important ingredients in a healthy diet, recommended by nutritionists to be included in the daily diet of vegetables. Thanks to its valuable and nutritious composition, this vegetable raises tone, increases mental and physical performance, normalizes appetite and has healing properties. In cooking, its leaves, stems and roots are used, from which you can prepare a large number of tasty and healthy dishes and drinks.
Because of the long growing season, celery is often grown by sowing seed for seedlings, especially in areas with a short period of warmth. Celery seedlings can be grown in greenhouses, greenhouses or on the windowsill in an apartment in seed boxes, but best of all in pots. Only with this method can you get early fragrant greens, fleshy petioles and large roots.
This is mainly due to the biological characteristics of celery. The fact is that the growing season for this plant in the first year of life is up to 170 days or more. In regions with a short summer, it simply does not have time to grow. Therefore, in order to get a good harvest of large root crops, celery has to be grown in seedlings, like eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.
The most optimal time for sowing root celery seeds is at the end of February - the beginning of the first decade of March, 60-70 days before planting seedlings in the ground. And leaf celery can be grown from seed or through seedlings, sowing seeds at the end of the second decade of March.
Celery seeds are very small, badly and take a long time to awaken, because they contain a lot of essential oils, which prevent their rapid swelling in the soil. They sometimes do not germinate until 20-22 days, especially if there is not enough moisture in the soil. In addition, they produce very weak seedlings.
Therefore, it is necessary to start by preparing the celery seeds for sowing. Most often they are soaked in water for 2-3 days, then dried until flowable and sown in boxes. This is the simplest but least effective way to prepare them.
To speed up the sprouting process, it is better to germinate the seeds before sowing. Most often this is done in the following way.
First, celery seeds are poured into a canvas bag and kept for 15-20 minutes in warm water at a temperature of 55-60 ° C, and then they are placed in cold water for the same time. Then they are scattered in a thin layer on a damp cloth and placed in a warm place for germination at a temperature of 20-22 ° C. When the first seedlings appear, they are slightly weathered, mixed with dry sand and sown.
All this is correct, but there are two more simple, but more effective schemes for preparing root and stalk celery seeds using oxygen dissolved in water or modern growth stimulants:
- the first is bubbling seeds for 24 hours in oxygenated water (using an aquarium microcompressor), then dressing in a 1% solution of potassium permanganate for 45 minutes at room temperature, and then sowing the seeds.
- the second is dressing the seeds in a 1% solution of potassium permanganate for 45 minutes, then soaking the seeds for 18 hours in an Epin solution (2 drops per 100 ml of water) at room temperature, then sowing the seeds.
In this case, the sequence of operations in both schemes should be exactly the same as it is indicated above.
Since celery easily tolerates spring return frosts down to minus 5 ° C, its seedlings are easy to grow in a greenhouse. But most gardeners who grow small quantities of celery prefer to grow seedlings in a box on a windowsill.
To do this, it is first advisable to put a layer of chopped straw with a thickness of 1-2 cm in the seed boxes, which in the future will allow you to maintain the optimal temperature in the root layer and rid the soil mixture of excess water during irrigation.
Then a loose nutrient mixture is poured into the box, consisting of 3 parts of low-lying, well-ventilated peat, 1 part of turf soil and 1 part of humus with the addition of coarse river sand. For 1 bucket of potting soil, add 2 cups of wood ash and 1 teaspoon of urea.
Depending on the need for seedlings, you can generally sow celery seeds in liter milk bags by cutting out one side wall, and making holes on the opposite side with a nail to drain excess water.
Seeds with single sprouts are slightly dried in the shade, mixed with sand and sown in boxes with moistened soil. They are sown in rows to a depth of 0.5-1 cm with a distance between rows of 6-7 cm.
But it is even better to spread them directly on the surface of the soil in rows, then sprinkle them through a sieve with a very thin layer of wet sand, since with free access of air they germinate faster.
The box is placed in a warm place and covered with transparent film. It takes 12-15 days from sowing prepared seeds to germination. If necessary, the crops are moistened with warm water from a hand sprayer. Watering with cold water and without measure can lead to the appearance of a black leg.
With any method of growing seedlings, before the emergence of seedlings, the seed boxes are kept in a warm place at a temperature of 22-25 ° C, and after the emergence of seedlings, the shelter is removed, and the box is immediately transferred to a lighted window sill, where the temperature should not exceed 16 ° C. At this time, it is advisable to treat young plants with drugs that well inhibit the appearance of diseases.
If the seedlings are very frequent, then the seedlings are thinned out, otherwise the seedlings will be weak and elongated. The thinning is repeated as necessary. The soil in the box should always be loose and moist.
For the first 35-40 days, celery grows slowly. 25-30 days after sowing in the phase of 1-2 true leaves, the seedlings are thinned out, leaving between the plants in a row of 4-5 cm, or dive into pots, 6x6 cm cubes, into paper cups, into seed boxes, into the soil of a greenhouse or greenhouses. In this case, the thickness of the soil must be at least 10 cm.
When picking, the plants are immersed in the soil up to the cotyledonous leaves, in no case filling up the central bud of growth and not exposing the roots, which leads to a significant delay in development. When picking seedlings in a greenhouse or in a greenhouse, they are planted at a distance of 4-6 cm from each other with a row spacing of 5-6 cm.
Moreover, after the pick, additional lateral roots are formed in the plants. Such seedlings take root better. When diving, in no case should the main root be damaged, since this can form a whole brush of roots with an ugly small root crop.
Then the plants are watered and shaded with damp paper for 2-3 days. With a pale color of leaves in young plants, they are fed with urea (1 teaspoon per 10 liters of water). The best temperature for their growth at this time is 15-16 degrees during the day and 11-12 degrees at night.
If, when growing celery seedlings, the temperature at night is below 10 ° C for a long time, then after planting in the ground, many plants can form flower stalks, which sharply reduces the quality and yield of root crops.
Further care for celery seedlings consists in loosening the row spacing, watering, airing and periodically feeding it with mineral fertilizers at the rate of 1 teaspoon of nitrophosphate per 1 liter of water, spending 2-3 tbsp. tablespoons of solution on a pot of seedlings. It is even better to use complex fertilizers "Kemiru-Lux", "Solution", etc.
If the celery leaves are pale, then the plants need to be fed with urea 2-3 times at intervals of 10-12 days. To avoid burns, after each feeding, wash off the solution with clean water from the watering can.
A few days before planting seedlings in open ground, they begin to harden it, taking it outside, first for a day, and then at night, in order to accustom it to the outside air. In open ground, seedlings are planted at the stage of 4-5 leaves, i.e. at the age of 50-60 days.
4-5 days before planting, the seedlings begin to harden in the open air, and 2-3 hours before planting, they are watered abundantly.
The optimal time for planting seedlings in the ground is mid-May, in warm weather it is possible even earlier. Plants at an early date of planting give a higher yield of high-quality root crops compared to those planted at a later date. At the same time, early planting of seedlings is associated with the risk of the formation of a large number of peduncles.
Plants 12-15 cm high with four to five leaves and a strong root system are considered good celery seedlings. High-quality root crops cannot be expected from overexposed or weak seedlings.