James, our farm partner in Johnston County, has been working hard to grow the delicious celery in your boxes. Over the past few years, James and our own Kevin O’Connell have been learning how to grow celery in North Carolina.
Most celery is grown in California and Michigan, and not typically seen in North Carolina because it’s a challenging crop to grow here. Celery needs a long time in the ground, between 130 and 140 days. Additionally, the weather needs to be mostly cool, and celery also needs a lot of water. Does that sound like North Carolina to you? These hundred degree days answer that question, don’t they?
This year, James used plastic ground cover to help him grow celery by keeping the weeds down that took over last year. The plastic ground cover also helps retain the moisture in the soil. The increased water has helped the stalks grow into larger, thicker ribs. Kevin says the celery is “practically growing in the mud.”
James’ celery is the “unblanched” variety, which gives it a stronger flavor profile. Due to the stronger flavor, less celery is needed in recipes. Celery you might find in the grocery store is typically blanched.
When you eat that crunchy celery, say a thank you to James for successfully bringing celery to North Carolina and our produce boxes this summer!