Celery is known to be a cool weather crop, so I'm pleasantly surprised that my celery plants are growing rather well, although not as large as supermarket ones, under the scorching heat and high temperatures of the Malaysian lowlands. What started as an experimental scattering of a few seeds in a container of soil has turned out into these lush and lovely pots of greens. The seeds were given to me by my sister and when they sprouted I actually forgotten what they were. When the sprouts were 2 inches tall, I transplanted into other larger pots. I now have 6 plants with 4 growing well and ready for harvest soon. Since Chinese New Year is next Monday and my family will be cooking up a feast for Chinese New Year's eve prayers and family reunion dinner this Sunday, I plan to harvest 2 plants for my trip back to Melaka.
2 plants growing in my 1st pot
Another 2 plants in the other pot
Celery is said to be high in vitamin A, and also contains vitamin B and C. It has a fair amount of sodium, calcium and phosphorus, as well as potassium, chlorine, magnesium and iron. It is also high in roughage - must be good for the bowel system :). Other benefits of celery I read include good for calming and soothing the nerves; it helps clean out the kidney and promotes urine; it helps gout by increasing the elimination of uric acid.
Celery is a heavy feeder plant and I regularly used organic chicken manure to feed my plants. Frequent watering is needed - the soil should not be waterlogged but should always be damp. I read about the blanching technique for celery in order to make it less bitter by covering the stems close to the soil. For this, more soil can be added to create a mount surrounding the base or a thick cardboard can also be used to wrap around the base of the stem about few inches high. This will block light from reaching the base of the stem and result in white stem, just like what one gets from supermarket celery. Although it'll reduce the bitterness, blanching will also reduce the nutritions in the plant. I did the 2nd method on one of my plants but after 3 days, 2 stalks had begun to wilt. So I decided not to blanch it, esp with my limited experience. I'll happily settle for as green as can be celery, whether bitter or not. I can't wait to see how my celery will taste like. Can't wait to stir fry them this weekend!
Happy Chinese New Year to all!