When and How to Harvest Celery

When and How to Harvest Celery

It’s finally time.

You’ve nurtured your celery plant from the time it was a seedling with impossibly thin “stalks,” and now they’re getting big and tall.

A close up vertical image of celery growing in the garden with bright green foliage and dark green stalks, with soil in soft focus in the background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.Apiaceae family, like carrots and cilantro – is ready to eat.

Pretty sure, but not totally sure.

So how do you know? When is it time to harvest a crisp, crunchy, flavorful stalk and spread it with creamy peanut butter (or Ranch sauce, if you’re like my spouse)?

And how do you even harvest it, anyway? Stalk by stalk? Or can you pull the whole plant at once?

In this article, I’ll reveal all.

Here’s what I’ll cover:

When to Harvest Celery

It’s tempting to think I can rely on my memory to tell me when I planted vegetable seeds and when, therefore, they’ll be harvest-ready.

A close up horizontal image of a seedling tray growing small Apium graveolens plants indoors.Photo by Laura Melchor.

Isn’t that hilarious? Because I totally can’t.

If I don’t make a note marking the day the seed germinated, I’ll have zero clue when it’s been 130-140 days, which is the average growth time needed for tasty to mature.

I need to get my organization system together with a gardening journal or sophisticated plant labels.

But thankfully, the average length of time to maturation isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. More than anything, it’s a guideline.

For most spring-planted celery, you’ll be harvesting between September and October.

A close up horizontal image of a raised garden bed with small Apium graveolens plants, with a small plant label in the foreground.Photo by Laura Melchor.

Fall-planted celery provides a winter harvest, and of course this only applies to those who live in warmer climates.

To put it in clear terms, you’ll need to wait about three to four months after germination before your stalks will be ready to harvest.

And about a week or two before you harvest, you may want to blanch the stalks with milk cartons, like I did.

A close up horizontal image of Apium graveolens growing in the garden with milk cartons blanching the stems, pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.Photo by Laura Melchor.

Blanching in the garden helps soften celery’s strong flavor for those who prefer a milder stalk.

The difference between blanched and unblanched stalks is easily visible, too, as you can see in the photo below.

A close up horizontal image of a hand on the left of the frame holding two different Apium graveolens plants, one that has been blanched and the other unblanched.The paler stalks on the left were blanched in the garden for a week. The stalks on the right were not, as my partner prefers them that way! Photo by Laura Melchor.

You can find out more about this method in our guide to blanching celery.

Regardless of whether or not you blanch, you can tell that the veggie is ready by measuring the length of the stalks.

If they’re at least six inches long from the base of the stalk to the first leaf, they’re probably harvest-ready.

How to Harvest

Here’s one of the cool things about celery: you can either harvest a few stalks at a time, or you can remove the entire plant at once.

I love being able to take just one piece from the plant for a quick salad, or two or three for a cozy fall soup.

A close up horizontal image of a garden basket with freshly harvested Apium graveolens stalks and leaves, set on a wooden surface.Storing Your Celery

To store your garden-grown veggies in the refrigerator, cut the leaves off and gently cut or pry the stalks apart. Wrap the individual stalks in slightly damp towels, then zip them into plastic bags.

You can store them in the crisper drawer like this for up to two weeks.

Eat the leaves within a couple days, though, because otherwise they’ll start to get mushy and gross. Like cilantro that’s left in the crisper drawer for more than a few days.

A close up horizontal image of a hand from the left of the frame selecting a bunch of Apium graveolens from a plastic box in the grocery store.Recipe and Cooking Ideas

One of my favorite ways to eat celery is as a star ingredient in this hearty winter vegetable soup from our sister site, Foodal.

A close up horizontal image of a hearty winter soup in a white bowl.Photo by Meghan Yager.

Pair it with this cinnamon swirl bread for dessert, and you’ll have the ultimate cozy fall meal on your hands (and in your belly). You can find this recipe on Foodal as well.

Of course, you’ll need it for your Thanksgiving stuffing too, head to Foodal for the recipe.

What’s better than using garden-grown celery that you harvested, flash-boiled, and froze yourself in your Thanksgiving meal?

Laura Melchor

Laura Melchor grew up helping her mom in the garden in Montana, and as an adult she’s brought her cold-weather gardening skills with her to her home in Alaska. She’s especially proud of the flowerbeds she and her three-year-old son built with rocks dug up from their little Alaska homestead. As a freelance writer, she contributes to several websites and blogs across the web. Laura also writes novels and holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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