4 Steps for Harvesting and Storing Celery

What You'll Need
Garden shovel
Watering can
Sharp knife to cut entire bunches
Sealable plastic bags
Refrigerator produce bags

When your celery is half-way to maturity, it's time to harvest. Enjoy it in salads and other dishes, and store each bunch efficiently so you can eat it a few days later. Follow these tips to harvest and store celery to preserve its freshness.

Step 1: Allow the Celery Stalks to Reach 12 Inches in Length

Harvest a few stalks, or petioles, at a time from the outer layer of each bunch starting in mid-June. Wait until the stalks are at least 12 inches long before gently pulling any of them off the bunches. Water the celery bunches with an inch of water daily from a watering can to avoid bruising the leaves. Water with drip irrigation when the heat rises to the 80s Fahrenheit. (30s C.).

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Kathy Bosin adds, "If you're growing celery from seed, try mixing the tiny seeds with sand before you sprinkle them over your planting medium. Barely cover the seeds with mix, and keep moist."

Step 2: Harvest Entire Celery Bunches

When the celery plant bunches have a diameter of at least 3 inches, you can bring whole bunches in from the garden. Always eat the palest, tender inner stalks raw. Water the bunches in the late afternoon the day before you harvest them, especially in hot, dry weather. This will hydrate the stalks, making them easier to chew. Remove the celery bunches below the soil line, cutting them off cleanly with a sharp knife.

Step 3: Put the Celery Plants into Soil for Blanching

In late summer, as the celery plants are nearing their full maturity, protect them and make the stalks blanch by partial burying. When the bunches reach 12 inches long, carefully stand several celery bunches up on their bases, attached to the roots. Cover the celery plant stalks with loose soil, and mound more soil up over the stalks once a week as they grow taller. Keep the leafy parts well above the soil surface, so they continue producing nutrients.Harvest the celery plants by the last week of October, with the onset of steady frost. Clear away the soil to 2 inches below the point where the stalks fuse, and cut the bunches away from the roots.

Step 4: Store the Celery in the Refrigerator

There are several ways to store celery in the refrigerator to prolong its freshness. Cut and trimmed celery sticks for snacks will stay fresh for about a week in a resealable bag. Store whole celery bunches in sealable plastic bags for 2 weeks. Put a dampened paper towel in the bag and change it every 2 days. Trim the celery and immerse it in water, either in a standing container or a flat shallow tray. Refrigerated celery stored this way will last 2 to 3 weeks, with weekly water changes. Specially developed green refrigerator produce bags will extend the life of your refrigerated celery to 4 weeks. These bags slow down the emission of gases from vegetables, helping them stay edible longer. Do not wash the celery before storing, or add any water to the bags.

TIP: Kathy suggests, "Try wrapping the stalks in aluminum foil, for longevity in your refrigerator."