Health

Saturday 30 August 2014

Grow your body fuel: Celeriac

Celeriac. Photo: Thinkstock

Why Grow it?

If you like the taste of celery, but find it a little cumbersome, then celeriac is the vegetable for you. Celeriac has a similar flavour to celery, but is grown for its knobbly, turnip-shaped swollen stem. As vegetables go, it's ugly as sin, but don't let that fool you -- it tastes delicious. It's very hardy and (unlike celery) stores extremely well. A decent crop of celeriac can see you right through the winter months to late March.

Sow

Grow celeriac as you would with celery, but because it stores well, there's no need for succession sowing. A single sowing in late March or early April is all that's required. Broadcast (sprinkle liberally) the seed in to a pot filled with compost. As is the case with celery, celeriac seeds need light to germinate so do not cover the seed with compost. Place the pot somewhere warm. Keep the compost moist.

Prick the seedlings out in to module trays (one seedling per module) about 2 weeks after germination (when about 3cm tall). If you grow 24 celeriac you can enjoy one a week from October to the end of March. You will need 1m of veg bed for every 9 celeriac (where the bed is 1.2m wide).

Grow

Dig the bed where you are going to grow celeriac in the winter or early spring and add plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. After hardening off well, plant out the seedlings in to the bed in May or when the seedlings are 10cm tall. Space the plants 35cm x 35cm apart.

Harvest

Celeriac are ready to rock from October onwards. They can be left in the ground in a mild winter (though they can be a little vulnerable to worms etc which will bore inside) or lifted and stored in sand. Use a fork to gently lift the plant, roots and all.

GIY Recommended Varieties

Brilliant, Giant Prague, Monarch

Problems

It's a healthy veg, so not much will bother it. Slugs like the seedlings, however.

GIY Tips

* In summer pick off the outer leaves on the top of the bulb -- this will encourage the bulb to swell.

* Spread a mulch around the plants in summer to preserve moisture in the soil.

Watch GIY tutorials on growing vegetables at www.giyireland.com/videos.

Irish Independent

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