If I am fitted to instruct on the cultivation of any vegetable, it is this, as for many years I have cultivated nearly half a million roots annually, and this experience has resulted in greatly simplifying the operation. The seeds are sown on a well pulverized rich border, as early in the season as the ground can be worked. The bed is kept clear of weeds until July, when the plants are set out for the crop. But as the seedling plants are rather troublesome to raise, the small number wanted for private use, can usually be purchased cheaper than they can be raised on a small scale, (they rarely cost more than $1 per 100), and if they can be procured fresh from the market gardeners in the neighborhood, it is never worth while to sow the seed. The European plan is to make a trench six or eight inches deep, in which to plant celery, but our violent rain storms in summer soon showed us that this plan was not a good one here, so we set about planting on the level surface of the ground, just as we do with all vegetables. Celery is a "gross feeder," and requires an abundance of manure, which, as usual, must be well mixed and incorporated with the soil, before the celery is set out. When the ground is well prepared, we stretch a line to the distance required, and beat it slightly with a spade, so that it leaves a mark to show where to place the plants. These are set out at distances of six inches between the plants, and usually four feet between the rows. Great care must be taken in putting out the celery, to see that the plant is set just to the depth of the roots, if much deeper, the "heart" might be too much covered up, which would impede the growth. It is also important that the soil be well packed to the root in planting, and if the operation can be done in the evening, and the plants copiously watered, no farther attention will be required.
If planted in July, nothing is to be done but keep the crop clear of weeds until September; by that time the handling process is to be begun, which consists in drawing the earth to each side of the celery, and pressing it tightly to it, bo as to give the leaves an upward growth preparatory to blanching for use. Supposing this handling process is done by the middle of September, by the first week in October it is ready for "banking up," which is done by digging the soil from between the rows and laying or banking it up on each side of the row of celery; after being so banked up in October, it will be ready for use in three or four weeks if wanted at that time. But if, as is usually the case, it is needed for winter use only, and is to be put away in trenches, or in the cellar, as will be hereafter described, all that it requires is the operation of "handling." If the celery is to be left in the open ground where it was grown, then a heavy bank must be made on each side of the rows, and as cold weather approaches - say in. this latitude by the middle of November - an additional covering of at least a foot of leaves or litter, must be closely packed against the bank, to protect it from frost.
Fig. 77. - "Handling Celery.
Perhaps the best wav to keep celery for family use, is in a cellar; this can be done by storing it in narrow boxes, of a depth a little less than the bight of the celery. A few inches of sand or soil is placed in the bottom of the box, and the celery is packed upright; the roots being placed on the sand at the bottom, none being put between the heads. Boxes thus packed and placed in a cool cellar in November, will be blanched fit for use during January, February, and March, though for succession, it will be better to put it in the boxes from the open ground at three different times, say October 25th, November 10th, and November 20th. Or if boxes are not at hand, the celery may be put away on the floor of. the cellar in strips of nine or ten inches wide, separated by spaces of the same width, divided by boards of a width equal to the hight of the celery. The reason for dividing the celery in these narrow strips by boards, is to prevent the heating, which would take place if placed together in too thick masses. The dates above given 9 apply, of course, to the latitude of New York; if further south, do the work later; if further north, earlier. If one has no suitable cellar, the celery can be very readily preserved in the manner followed by market gardeners.
Fig. 78.-"Banking Up" Celery.
After it has been "handled" or straightened up, as before described, what is intended for use by Christmas, should be dug up by about October 25th; that to be used in January and February, by November 10th, and that for March use, by November 20th, which latter date is as late as it can be risked here; although it will stand quite a sharp frost, the weather by the end of November is often severe enough to kill it, or so freeze it in the ground that it cannot be dug up. The ground in which it is to be preserved for winter use, must be as dry as possible, and so arranged that no water can remain in the trench. Dig a trench as narrow as possible, (it should not he wider than ten inches), and of a depth equal to the hight of the celery, that is, if the plant of celery be eighteen inches high, the trench should be dug eighteen inches deep. The celery is then packed exactly in the manner described for storing in boxes to be placed in the cellar; that is, stand it as near upright as possible, and pack as closely together as can be done without bruising i.t As the weather becomes cold, the trenches should be gradually covered with leaves or litter, to the thickness of sis or eight inches, which will be enough to prevent severe freezing, and enable the roots to be taken out easily when wanted. Fig. 79 represents this method of storing celery in trenches for winter use.
Fig. 79. - Storing Celery In Trenches For Winter.
From 200 to 500 roots is the number usually required by an ordinary family. The varieties we recommend, are the San-dringham White and Dwarf Red. The red is as yet but little used in this country, though the flavor is better, and the plant altogether hardier than the white.