Friday, 19 February 2010

I never saw one the size of that before...

celeriac from the Farmers' Market
A celeriac with 4 person teapot for scale

Went down to the Farmers' Market in Newport Pagnell today and found this monster, along with her equally enormous siblings, for a mere £1.50. Celeriac is one of those vegetables that you seem to really need a knack for, I've never grown one half the size of this, although the tennis balls that have grown have been tasty it hardly seems worth the effort of keeping them weeded and cared for over a long season.

I told the stallholder but he seemed unimpressed by his work and said he often grew them like that. He didn't seem disposed to share his secret either.

So although I'm fairly sure I'm too late to start this year does anyone have any hints or tips that would help me grow better celeriac? I'd love to hear from you if you do.

NP Farmers Market

2 comments:

Tristan said...

Well hello again,

I was just having a catch up read on your blog and can unravel the mysteries of Celeriac for you. We've grown them to well over a kilo on our organic farm.

If you haven't already sown them yet then sow now. We want a good well developed plant for setting out at some time in may. They take so long to germinate and i think they hold the record for the smallest veg seed( maybe wild rocket?). We usually don't even cover the seeds with compost once sown. They need light to trigger germination so we make an indentation in the compost with a pencil or dibber about half a centimeter deep and just drop 'em in. They need to be kept moist with a very fine mist and will need daily watering if the sun is out because the seed is exposed. Be generous with the module size and make sure there is no root damage when planting on in May.

When they germinate they are SO small and vulnerable for quite some time. The one year we had 2000 plants up and away and 1 slug ate over 500 of them in two or three nights. Grrr.

We planted them one year on an area where we had just cleared a muck heap and the soil was lovely and rich and VERY water retentive. This is just what they need organic matter to make a lovely bed up and then 1"(25l per m2) of water a week. Now I don't actually regard them as greedy plants. They don't use that much fertility and the crop following on from them will do well on whats left in the soil. They just need that ability to retain moisture around the roots so they can keep up their pathetically slow growth without check through the season. All the above was discovered the only way in horticulture: Accident and observation!

It took a few years to crack celeriac.

Any crop that is tricky to grow has always got me licking my green lips and we rise to the challenge to grow a perfect crop for sale. When the mortgage getting paid is relying on the crops I've got in the ground it sharpens the senses and the above advice comes purely from ten years of pro growing and not regurgitated from a book!

I can't get enough of it raw and can often be found scoffing with a knife in the celeriac beds...

Don't give up. There seems to be a technique for every veg.

Now i'm hoping that info might just be worth a yacon root or three if you have any!


all the best

Tristan

Catofstripes said...

Hi Tristan,

Thanks for that useful detailed advice. Maybe I'll give it a try again this year although we've got quite a lot on already for the next season, if it ever comes!

Yacon - I'm on tenterhooks. I only got my own yacon start last autumn and it's been in a big pot in the greenhouse since. I think it's o.k. but with all this sub zeroness I'm quite concerned. If it is o.k. I hope to have something to share next autumn but for the moment, fingers crossed.