This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
It may be a new method to some growers to adopt this plan, but it is certain that Celery has been grown in pots for many years, probably before "Under-Gardener " or myself was born - but not for late supplies, however; and the reason I would assign for this is, the great quantity of water Celery requires, and how ready the crop is to " bolt" when its roots are confined. If "Under-Gardener" could now look in upon some growers for exhibition he might see Celery in pots far advanced in growth, and probably in good condition by the month of June; and perhaps at the same places may now be found good Celery behind a wall or fence which has stood the winter, and comes in as a succession to crops which came into use in August.
I have never had any difficulty in keeping Celery in good condition, with little or no loss, as late as May, and that in a very exposed district in Scotland. Celery is not easily injured, except when " coddled " in absence of frost, and when grown on undrained land, planted deep and earthed up too high. In some districts "potting" might be advisable, but deliver me from the watering of a supply of Celery, say from 2000 and upwards. Space for pots in small places is generally less at command than ridges made to hold from four to seven rows of Celery. "When this crop is managed, as market-gardeners often -grow it, planted on the surface-level, after plenty of manure has been dug in the ground, "rotting " or "bolting " is seldom seen.
Blenheim. M. Temple.
Mr Temple, in the ' Gardener' for June, warns us of some of the difficulties attending Celery-culture in pots. He says Celery has been grown in pots for many years; if grown successfully, all the more reason why " Under-Gardener," or somebody else, should give the system publicity. Some years ago, your (I might say our) esteemed correspondent, " The Squire's Gardener," wrote an article on herbaceous bedding which drew a great deal of attention at the time. Had " The Squire's Gardener " looked in upon Mr Noble, the veteran gardener at Bonnington, he would have seen the system brought to a degree of perfection which, judging from his article, he little dreamed of. It made its mark, however, and helped to create a demand for many good plants which had been previously neglected.
Mr Temple says, " if ' Under-Gardener' could look in upon some growers for exhibition he might see Celery in pots," etc. If Mr Temple could have looked in here while writing, he would have seen Celery in pots to be planted in trenches in June for use in August. Yet we are not going to take a wrinkle from " Under-Gardener." Mr Temple says he never had any difficulty in keeping Celery, etc. To this it is sufficient to answer that others have. Further, he says, "deliver me from watering a supply of Celery, say from 2000 upwards." To this we heartily respond, but half of that number is far above the average grown by the majority of the readers of the "Gardener;' besides, it is only part of the crop that is recommended to be grown in pots.
For those who grow for exhibition, or a more important class still, those who have to bring forward a supply to be fit for use by 1st August, a good system is to grow in shallow trenches in double rows, each plant tied up slackly with moss, or, where moss is plentiful, it might be laid round it like earth; but previous to using, it should be steeped a few hours in water with a handful of salt in it, to make it uncomfortable for worms. Brightspade.
Like the children, I have a natural antipathy to being left out in the dark, " all alone." I was half afraid I was going to be so in this case; but, thanks to Mr Temple, I am not, as I thought, all alone in my idea of growing Celery in pots.
He says it may be a new method to some - as much as if he had said, although it may be a new thing to " Under-Gardener " it is not so to me - and then goes on to say that if I would look in upon some growers for exhibition I would see Celery in pots. Quite true; but that is not the idea I started. It was to keep up a winter and early spring supply where failure was the rule in the open trenches; and I must say, that if Mr Temple had succeeded in keeping up a supply through, the winter in Scotland, he would have been far more successful than the majority of gardeners. The whole tone of Mr Temple's letter is simply against the idea of growing a supply in pots, as well as to make-believe that the thing was common enough. It is a common thing for exhibitors to grow Leeks in pots, but that is not the same thing as growing a winter's supply in pots; and were anybody to suggest the plan of doing so, wouldn't it be " new "? only there is no use growing Leeks in pots, for the simple reason that they are better outside.
But it i& different with Celery, for reasons stated in my first paper on the subject, which, if carefully looked over, will show any one that the reasons were given clearly; and, indeed, Mr Temple has not ventured to say that my reasons were insufficient, and the only unsurmountable difficulty he points at seems the watering. Well, I confess that is the one point where the method will involve more labour than the way commonly practised; but, taking one thing with another, I am perfectly satisfied that, to keep up the supply, the one method will take no more trouble than the other.
I recommended the method to amateurs; and what amateur would require 2000 to supply his wants from Christmas onwards 1 and where that number is required, there are generally appliances reducing the trouble of watering to a minimum. Say, for instance, where bedding plants are hardened off, there are generally water-pipes and hose; and. I have even seen, at an amateur's too, a water-pipe laid along the top of a wall with jets in it for watering hard-wooded greenhouse plants which stood at the bottom of said wall through the summer, and all that was required was to turn on the water, when the jets commenced showering, watering the plants effectually overhead and in the pots, too.
I don't say that the method I recommend surpasses the old except in this, - with your Celery in pots you are independent of the weather,, for you can stow them anywhere you please, provided it is safe from frost and damp, and various means could be employed to retard them in spring which may be impracticable in trenches. I am still convinced-that it is practicable, and more, that one day many will practise it as. the superior plan. Under-Gardener.