Celery is native to the Mediterranean and adjacent areas. The plant is a strong-smelling biennial. The thick petioles, curved in cross section, are long and grooved on the external surface. The stems bearing the compound leaflets are attached to the apex of the long petiole at a point often called the joint. The flowers are very small, white and borne in compound umbels in the leaves of the branched seed stalks which maybe 60 to 90 cm. in height.
As a salad crop, celery ranks next to lettuce. Like lettuce, celery has been growing in importance and popularity. Salads have become increasingly common on the menus of most Filipinos, and the supply of this important crop has to keep pace with the ever-growing demand.
There are no statistics on the production of celery in the Philippines. The only known areas producing the crop are Baguio, Trinidad in Benguet and to some extent, Davao.
Elne -Foliage are tall, dark and green the while the stalk are thick, smooth and fleshy. Can be harvested 2 to 3 months from transplant.
Tall Utah – Foliage are sturdy, dark green with long, thick, smooth stalk.
Climatic and Soil Requirements – Celery is distinctly a cool season crop. Large, tender petioles are produced at relatively cool temperature. A monthly mean temperature of about 15 to 18 degree C up to maximum 20 degree C is considered ideal for the production of good quality and
quantity celery crops.
Successful production of celery can be had in soils that are either muck or peat. Sandy loam soil well-supplied with organic matter is also preferred. Acidic soils are normally avoided. The pH range of soils considered ideal for the production of celery is from 6.0 to 6.8.
Elevation – Stalk celery production is limited to the higher elevation but soup celery can be grown at close to sea level.
Months of Planting – Celery is planted the year round but quantity crops are planted from January through April.
Nutritional Requirements – A crop of celery from a hectare of land would be able to absorb from the soil 313.6 kg. of nitrogen, 80.6 kg. of phosphorous, 711.2 kg. of potassium, 295.7 kg of calcium and 39.2 kg of magnesium. Essentially, in view of the restricted root system of celery, an abundant supply of nutrients must be available in the root zone during the last month or before the expected time of harvesting, if a good crop of high quality is desired.
Seed bedding and care of seedlings – To induce quick germination of the seeds, they should be soaked overnight in water. Sowing may be done early the following morning. As the seed is slow to germinate, soil moisture in the beds should be kept close to field capacity. Pieces of moistened burlap can be spread over the area in which seeds have been sown thinly at a very shallow depth. This aids in preventing washing out of seeds during the watering and also keeps the soil from dying out rapidly.
Since the celery plant grows rather very slowly during its seedling stage, care must be taken to keep the weeds on the beds under control. These weeds compete seriously with the seedlings for the uptake of nutrients available in the soil. It takes from two to three months for the seedlings to reach a suitable size for transplanting in the field.
Transplanting and Spacing – When the seedlings have attained the height of about 15 cm., they are transplanted in the open field. Beds about 1m. wide are prepared in the field. The usual size is 1m wide and 15 m. high in the dry season and 30 cm in the rainy season. It is quite common in Trinidad Valley in Benguet Province to make the beds 90 cm. wide with a 30 cm. high furrow between the beds.
Two rows of plants are then set on the bed. The rows are about 40 cm. apart and plants are spaced about 20 cm. on the row. The soil between the rows can be mulched with dried grasses to prevent rapid evaporation of soil moisture and to smother the weeds. It is necessary to prune the seedlings before transplanting them to the field. Recovery from the effects of transplanting would be more rapid with the plants which receives less pruning of the tops or roots.
Effort must be exerted to select only those seedlings of good size for transplanting. Small seedlings would normally produce the light plants at harvest time. It is well, therefore, to discard these seedlings as they are considered genetically less vigorous.
Cultivation and Irrigation – With celery, cultivation must be confined almost to the surface, scraping the soil in order to avoid injury to the roots which are within the 15 to 30 cm. zone from the base of the plants. Thus, mulching the surface of the beds between the rows with either well-dried grasses or rice straw helps prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil and smothers the weeks. Frequent irrigation is very important. Lack of water can cause serious losses in crop yield and quality.
Fertilizer Application – in Baguio and Trinidad Valley in Benguet, it is customary to mix a truckload of chicken manure or compost with 600 to 800 kg. of 15-15-15 or other complete fertilizers per hectare of beds before transplanting. This is followed with side dressing of from 100 to 150 kg of ammonium sulfate at 10 to 15 day intervals.
Side-dressing is applied in solution along the rows at the rate of 100 to 150 gr. of fertilizer in 5 gal. of water.