Soils

As previously stated, great commercial plantations are on muck soils, although the business is not confined to such lands. The mucks usually provide ideal conditions for the culture of celery. The plant thrives in soils abounding in vegetable matter, and as mucks contain 60 per cent or more of organic matter this requirement is fully met. A Kalamazoo (Michigan) muck soil, used extensively for celery, analyzed as follows:

per cent

Sand and silicates..............

19.16

Alumina...........

1.40

Oxide of iron...........

3.94

Lime...........

6.09

Magnesia..........

0.81

Potash..........

0.34

Soda...........

0.38

Sulphuric acid.........

1.31

Phosphoric acid.................................

0.88

Carbonic acid.....

1.95

Organic matter (containing 2.53 per cent of nitrogen)........

33.76

Water............

6.51

Properly prepared mucks are loose and friable, and this is a great advantage in transplanting and in performing all tillage operations. The land is easily plowed, harrowed, leveled, marked and cultivated, and the work of ridging the plants is accomplished with the greatest ease. The depth of the water-table in muck lands varies greatly, but about 3 feet is considered most favorable; at this depth the plants never suffer from drought.

While it is universally conceded that muck soils provide the best conditions for the extensive cultivation of celery, the crop is grown with entire success on a great variety of soil types. In fact, the plants thrive in.any friable soil which is adequately provided with moisture, plant-food and vegetable matter. Near all the northern cities of the United States may be found plantations of limited area that return excellent profits. This is particularly true in sections devoted to the most intensive types of market-gardening, when stable manure and commercial fertilizers are used almost lavishly. With this system of soil-management, the ground soon changes its physical properties and in some cases approaches the muck soils in mechanical composition. It is not uncommon to find small areas on various types of soil, cultivated intensely, which make a gross return of $1,000 or more to the acre. These results indicate the great possibilities of the home garden for the production of celery. There is no reason why every gardener, whatever his type of soil, should not be fully successful in growing a bountiful supply of the choicest celery for the home table. The reclaiming of new muck lands is often an expensive undertaking. The land must be cleared of brush and sometimes timber.

Drainage must be provided by means of tile or open ditches. The land is often acid, and lime should be employed to correct the acidity. For a year or two other crops than celery should be planted to get the land in the proper physical condition. The first plowing should be done in the fall so that the land will be exposed to frost during the winter. Corn is an excellent crop to plant the following spring. There should be repeated cultivation throughout the summer to destroy any other vegetation that may start.

Other types of soil should be prepared as in the usual way for the small garden crops. Fall plowing, after large quantities of manure have been added, is often desirable when an early crop is to be started the following spring. Smoothing harrows and plank drags should be used to make the soil fine and smooth preparatory to planting. All preparatory tillage operations should be conducted with a view to conserving soil-moisture, which is exceedingly important to celery throughout the period of growth.

Fertilizing

As previously stated, it is important for land that is to be planted in celery to abound in vegetable matter. There must also be an abundance of available plant-food in order to secure a rapid and vigorous growth. When applying either manure or commercial fertilizer, the grower should bear in mind that this is a shallowrooted plant and the materials should not be placed at great depths.

All classes of growers, whether they are producing on a garden or field scale, and whatever their type of soil may be, recognize stable-manures as the best fertilizer that can be applied for this crop. Stable-manures are the most satisfactory because they furnish both organic matter and plant-food. It is often desirable to supplement stable-manures with commercial fertilizers, but the success of this crop will be far more certain if reliance is placed on barn-manures rather than chemical fertilizers.

An effort should be made to have the manures near the surface of the ground, and this can be accomplished by applying rotten or composted manure after plowing and working into the soil with a disc-harrow. If coarse fresh manure must be used and partially decayed manure is not available, it is preferable to apply it before plowing. Market-gardeners often apply thirty to forty tons to the acre, although smaller quantities give excellent results, especially if fertilizers are used in addition to the manure. Ten tons of manure on muck land is a decided advantage over no manure, even when fertilizers are used in large quantities.

Probably no commercial grower of celery should attempt to produce this crop without the use of at least some commercial fertilizer. When stable-manures are used lavishly, a little acid phosphate, nitrate of soda or potash will often give increased profits.

When stable-manure is not used at all, or perhaps in very small amounts, commercial fertilizers should be used with freedom. Two tons of a high-grade fertilizer to the acre is not an unusual application, and some of the most intensive growers use larger amounts. In the smaller areas, from which a gross return of $800 to $1,200 to the acre is expected, there should be no hesitancy in spending $100 to $125 an acre for manure and fertilizer. Celery requires much nitrogen and the mixed fertilizer applied before planting, or afterwards as a side-dressing, should contain not less that 4 per cent of this element. There should also be an abundance of potash and phosphoric acid. A fertilizer containing 4 per cent of nitrogen, 8 per cent phosphoric acid and 10 per cent potash should meet the requirements of this crop in all soils, when applied in sufficient quantity.

Some growers have found it highly desirable to apply nitrate of soda or complete fertilizer as side-dressings after the crop is well started. These applications may vary from 100 to 200 pounds to the acre and should be made at intervals of about three weeks.