Growing Celeriac – Or Growing Celery Root

 

Is “Growing Celeriac” The Same As “Growing Celery Root?”

Celeriac plant

Exactamundo!  Growing celeriac and growing celery root are precisely the same!  Known by other names – such as turnip rooted celery – or, knob celery – celeriac, is a celery-like veggie that produces an edible globular swelling as part of the plant’s lower stem – with small roots growing out of it.

Even though celeriac’s root-like bulging bottom is destined for consumption – and, even though it resembles a turnip – there is no family connection between them.  Its meaty innards – though looking and cooking like a potato – have a soft, but pronounced celery flavor.

 

Where Did Celeriac Come From?

The Mediterranean Sea

The Greek poet, Homer, talked about celeriac in his famous poem, “The Odyssey”, referring to it as “selinon” – which is Greek for a celery-like vegetable.  That was a little over 28 centuries ago – around 800 B.C.

It is grown far and wide in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea – where it got its start.  Celeriac is also highly regarded all over Northern Europe.  In recent years, this healthy vegetable has grown in popularity in many parts of North America, as well.

 

Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber – Oh My!Lots of vitamins and minerals in celeriac.

Packed with fiber, celeriac is also an excellent repository for a myriad of vitamins – the most important being B6, C, and K – and minerals – iron, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium are those with the highest concentrations but, there are many others in lesser intensities.

Oil and juice gleaned from the celeriac plant are known to calm and sooth the central nervous system – increasing the ability to withstand pain.  Liquid celeriac has also been used to treat rheumatism and kidney ailments, as well as significantly reduce high blood pressure.  Celeriac fluid is also credited for helping to create restful sleep and increased memory capacity.Celeriac juice can put you to sleep.

This amazing plant’s natural sodium removes excessive body acid which reduces joint stiffness and makes the body more flexible overall.  High body acidity can damage the skeletal structure.

The high iron content balances the blood level – a low iron condition is routinely experienced by both anemic folks and pregnant ladies.

Vitamin K alleviates bleeding issues by helping the blood to coagulate more readily.

Vitamin C and other antioxidants fight cancer, boost the immune system and go a long way to fighting and preventing colds and flu.

The fiber improves metabolism and digestion – promoting regularity in bowel movements – which lowers the risk of colon cancer.

Since celeriac is ultra low in cholesterol and saturated fats, the chance of cholesterol build up in the arteries is minimized – leading to a reduced risk of heart disease.

DIETING TIP:  Drink a glass of celeriac juice – sweetened with a little honey before a meal.  Your tummy will feel full much quicker and you will eat less.  This is a great way to rehydrate the body – and reduce sugar cravings.  So, a couple glasses of this concoction every day will lend a huge helping hand to weight control!

 

Cooking Celeriac Dishes

This unique veggie is edible both raw and cooked.  Celeriac is normally harvested when it is 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  But, for a more intense flavor, pick some that are less than 4 inches wide.

Add thin slices of celeriac to soups, casseroles, salads, side dishes, and garnishes.  Put in some chopped up leaves and stems, too – since they add a very delicate flavor.

Celeriac fries are just as good as French fries.

I’ve had celeriac roasted, stewed, mashed, blanched, sautéed, stir fried, baked – and just about every other way imaginable.  One of my personal favorites is mashing some together with my homemade mashed potatoes for a mouth-watering change of pace to the normal “mashed potato taste.”

Instead of making traditional French fries, experiment a little and try making some celeriac fries.

Have any of you tried a celeriac-laden remoulade?  My remoulade is basically homemade tartar sauce with finely chopped celeriac added – giving the flavor a bit of a celery kick.

 

Grow Your Own Celeriac

First, buy the best celeriac seeds.  You’ll find them in “The Best Organic Vegetable Seeds – For All Your Growing Needs” along with other top-notch veggie seeds.

Then, proceed to seed the garden after the last spring frost.  In my neck of the woods, that usually happens about mid-April.  It will take from 10 days to 3 weeks for the seeds to begin sprouting out of the ground and in about 3 months, or so, harvesting can begin.

If you want a head start, begin germination inside about 2 months before planting.  That will allow enough time for transplanting into pots and hardening off the seedlings before transferring the celeriac plants to their garden home.

Try to keep them in an area of the garden that gets full sun in the morning and early afternoon – but, has some shade by late afternoon.  Celeriac doesn’t take well to the hot, humid weather in midsummer – especially in hardiness zones 7 and higher – so, having some shade late in the day is a boon for them.

Celeriac plants in a backyard garden.

  • The ground should be tilled at least 6 inches deep – 8 inches is better.
  • Make a furrow along the row – and, add a layer of Jim’s 50/50 soil mixture.
  • In rows a foot and a half apart, place seeds every couple of inches.
  • Cover the seeds with a quarter inch of Jim’s soil mixture.
  • Water well and keep the ground moist – but not soggy. An inch of water per week should do it.  A water sensor or probe is a great no-brainer way to make sure the plants get enough fluids.
  • After the seedlings emerge and get at least their second set of leaves, thin out the weaklings so the plants have 6 inches between them.
  • Now is a good time to add a soaker hose and some mulch. Watering with a soaker hose reduces the risk of plant fungal diseases.  Mulching holds moisture in the ground.  Plus, it helps to control weeds that will rob the plants of water and nutrients.

 

Procuring The Prize At Its Peak

Harvested celeriac

Harvesting can start whenever you see that these round celeriac orbs have reached a width of 3 inches – give or take a little.  The younger pickings will have a more pronounced flavor.  If you prefer a milder, gentler taste, wait until they are more than 4 inches wide – but don’t wait for them to get more than 6 inches because, taste quality goes downhill as they get too big for their britches.

Remove all the small offshoot roots and wipe off the excess dirt.

Celeriac globes can be kept in a cool, dark area for up to 3 months.  But, personally, if I can’t eat the fresh pickings in a couple of weeks, I’ll blanch and freeze – or dehydrate – or freeze-dry – my celeriac.

 

Pests and Diseases

 

Pests

Leaf tier caterpillar

As it is with celery, aphids love celeriac, too!  And, these critters can not only cause plant growth to slow to a crawl, they can pass along some deadly plant diseases.

Thrips and leaf tier caterpillars may show up.  The thrips will suck moisture out of the plants – much like aphids do.  And, the leaf tiers will make leaves and stalks look like Swiss cheese with all the holes they will chew – plus, their larvae babies happily feed on these plants as well.

Get out an insecticide to put a halt to the activity of these pests.  I use Ortho Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer.  It does a thorough job getting rid of these pain in the neck creepy crawlies!

 

Diseases

Wilt and early blight can occur – especially if the plants’ leaves are still wet as they go into the evening hours.  When leaves don’t dry out before nightfall, the plants are much more susceptible to fungal diseases.

If you catch problems early enough, blast the plants with some Daconil or Physan 20 – and there is a 98% chance that your worries will be over.  If the plant is too far gone, rip it out of the garden – by the roots – and bag it for the garbage collector – get the plant as far away from the garden as possible to prevent the disease from getting re-introduced to your precious veggies.  Never – ever – put infected, diseases plants into a compost pile.  As Shakespeare said, you will “rue the day” if you do!

 

Time For Jed

My neighbor, Jed, the retired farmer, keeps a collection of newsletter handouts that he gets every Sunday at his church.  Recently, he shared some of bloopers that the church’s beloved secretary, Bobbie Jo Scraggs, had added to these bulletins over the years.  Unwittingly, of course.

Have a look for yourself.  I’m sure at least a few of them will have you smiling:

Jed's church

“This morning’s sermon will be: Jesus Walks on the Water.  And, don’t miss this evening’s sermon: Searching for Jesus.”

“Please don’t let worry kill you off – allow our church to help.”

“Come and watch the choir tryouts next Sunday after morning services.  They need all the help they can get!”

Billy Bob Benson and Laurie Sue Cowcatcher were married last Saturday evening in the church. This ends a friendship that began in their school days.”

“Y’all are invited to come and listen to choir practice this Wednesday evening.  Afterwards, Reverend Bocephus will give a special sermon titled, What Is Hell?”

“Don’t miss our potluck supper this Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.”

“Our church ladies have cast off clothing of all types. They may be seen in the church basement this coming Saturday morning.”

“On Friday, 8 July, at 7:00 PM, we will be singing hymns in the picnic area next to the church. Everyone is invited – so bring a blanket – and, be prepared to sin.”

“Attention Weight Watchers coming to the monthly meeting tonight at 6:30 PM in the church’s auditorium. Please enter through the extra large double doors at the side entrance.”

“The Assistant Minister, Eugene Flatt, unveiled the church’s new donation campaign slogan yesterday:  I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

 

Comments?  Emails?

That’s it for now.  Don’t forget!  I look forward to your comments and / or emails!  So, don’t be shy!

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com

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