Name: sea celery, annual celery (Apium annuum).
Plant type: annual or biennial herb/vegetable.
Climate: warm temperate and sub-tropical.
Soil: well-drained, enriched with organic matter.
Position: full sun to part shade.
Foliage: small leaflets with toothed margins, resembling celery.
Flowering: clusters of small white flowers appear from spring to summer.
Feeding: liquid feed regularly throughout the growing season.
Watering: water regularly.
Sea celery has long, thin stalks topped with small green leaflets that resemble celery, and has small white flowers. It is considered a native substitute for celery – the foliage smells and tastes like celery, but with a salty flavour. It is drought-tolerant once established.
Use sea celery as a substitute for traditional celery. It imparts a salty taste and can be used as a garnish, to flavour soups and stews, or mixed with other herbs in a seasoning mix.
Choose a spot in full sun to part shade with well-drained soil. Enrich with organic matter and dig in well. If growing in a pot, fill with a premium quality potting mix. Dig a hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the existing root ball. Remove seedling or young plant from its pot, loosen the mix to free the roots and position in the centre of the hole. Backfill, firm down and water in well.
While sea celery is drought-tolerant, water regularly throughout the growing season to maximise harvest. Spread an organic mulch, such as pea straw or sugarcane, around the base of the plant to help retain moisture.
Water often to keep the soil moist. This may mean watering once every couple of days or more often in hot, dry conditions.
Feed regularly in spring with an organic-based liquid fertiliser to help keep the soil microbes happy and the plant well fed. An organic-based fertiliser typically contains goodies to help nourish the soil, and fast-acting nutrients to boost plant growth.
Harvest as needed by picking the outer stems throughout the season.
Spider mites can attack sea celery. Their presence is often overlooked as they’re difficult to see, but in severe infestations there may be silvery strands or webbing between the stems and foliage. Treat them with a suitable organic insecticide.
Grow sea celery from seed or seedlings. In spring, sow seeds in a tray of seed-raising mix, position in a warm spot and keep the soil moist. Germination can take up to 4 weeks.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
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Photo credit: tuckerbush.com.au