Saving Celery and Celeriac Seeds

Save and preserve celery and celeriac seeds using this quick, thorough guide covering everything from the history of the crop to caring for the seeds.

  • Celeriac plants can be spaced tightly during their first season of growth, as seen above, but because the individual plants are quite large at seed maturity, they require additional space in their second year.
    Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange
  • After vernalization, celery plants produce numerous flower stalks. The multi-branched plants benefit from staking.
    Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange
  • Like parsley and other mem¬bers of the Apiaceae, celery produces small flowers that are held in compound umbels. The protandrous flowers of this species are insect-pollinated.
    Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange
  • Each individual celery flower produces a fruit called a schizocarp, which eventually splits into two single-seeded mericarps.
    Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange
  • During ripening, celery seeds fade from green to brown and often take on a purplish hue. The two halves of the schi¬zocarps become more apparent as the fruits dry.
    Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange
  • Filled with advice for the home gardener and the seasoned horticulturist alike, “The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving” provides straightforward instruction on collecting seed that is true-to-type.
    Cover courtesy Seed Savers Exchange

The Seed Garden (Seed Savers Exchange, 2015) by Micaela Colley & Jared Zystro and edited by Lee Buttala & Shanyn Siegel brings together decades of research and hands-on experience to teach both novice gardeners and seasoned horticulturists how to save the seeds of their favorite vegetable varieties.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Seed Garden.

Whether one is cultivating celery or celeriac, growing Apium graveolens for seed presents some challenges for new seed savers and is perhaps better suited to those with more experience. The small seeds of these tender biennials require care to germinate, and the plants themselves need ample fertility and consistent moisture during transplanting and vegetative growth in order to prosper and set seeds. And because the seeds mature unevenly, seed crops of Apium graveolens must be monitored carefully as the seed harvest approaches.

Crop Types

Apium graveolens is used culinarily for its roots, seeds, stems, and leaves, and the species consists of three crop types: celery, celeriac, and smallage. Celery seed, a common seasoning used in cook­ing, can be collected from any of the different Apium graveolens crops.

Celery is grown for its pale-green-to-white fleshy petioles (leaf stems), commonly referred to as stalks. Historically, celery plants were blanched to keep the stalks tender and prevent them from tasting bitter, but many cultivars available today are self-blanching. Red-stalked varieties, such as the historic cultivar ‘Red Celery’ or the newer cultivar ‘Redventure’, are topped with dark green leaves and do not require blanching.

Celeriac, also known as celery root or tur­nip-rooted celery, is grown for its large, edible root, which is actually comprised of both the root and the swollen hypocotyl (the base of the stem). Celeriac can be stored through the winter more easily than celery.

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