With a show of hands, how many of you have ever grown celeriac, also known as celery root? Hmm, I don’t see a lot of hands. Why not? Celeriac, often described as knobby or (gasp!) ugly, seems to be a rather under-appreciated root vegetable, but it truly is a superstar in my winter garden. However, growing celeriac is a long term commitment as it takes around four months to go from seed to harvest. But, trust me, it’s worth it. Celeriac lasts all winter long, offering its rounded roots until we finally run out sometime in late March.
Both celeriac and its better known cousin celery, are members of the parsley family and prized for their aromatic flavour. They are both slow growers that are tucked into the garden as seedlings in early May, but only begin to size up by mid-summer. Admittedly, they are a tad greedy, enjoying both rich soil and regular moisture, but the minimal work is worth the reward.
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We don’t harvest celeriac until late October, allowing the roots to grow as large as possible. By late November, when the ground threatens to freeze, we deep mulch the celeriac bed (about 24 big roots) with a foot of shredded leaves. This is topped with a row cover to hold the mulch in place.
As winter progresses and the bed is buried under a steady layer of insulating snow, we harvest these lovely roots, using them as a celery substitute in pasta sauces, soups, and stews, and raw on veggie trays. The leaves, which often stay quite green beneath the mulch, can be added to vegetable or soup stocks to impart an intense celery flavour.
Are you growing celeriac in your garden?
Hi Niki, I love and grow celeriac. Mine turn out to be rather annoyingly small – size of a tennis ball. As you mentioned they may need more food and steady moisture. Will try it again next hear. What is hour favorite type? And also, the voles in our garden are also very fond of it, so no harvesting throughout the winter but rootcellaring
Hi Ellen.. I’m so glad you love this rather under-appreciated veggie too! Regular moisture is key, so definitely try that. Deep mulching will reduce watering – I don’t like to be chained to my garden. I like all types.. but usually Brilliant or Diamont. There really aren’t much differences between them. The only exception is the Giant Kossak type which can grow about 8 inches in diameter. A whopper for sure! 🙂 Keep me posted! -Niki
Phil Barr says
There’s a big clump of healthy celeric growing against the garage in a sunny spot in the back of the garden. It’s been coming up annually for over 10 years. While I’ve occasionally used the leaves in soup, I’ve left the root untouched.
Any tips on dividing and replanting are appreciated as I don’t want to damage or lose it.
Also, do you collect and use the seeds as a spice? Thanks!
Niki Jabbour says
Hi Phil, It sounds like you’ve got a clump of lovage, which is a celery relative that is a hardy perennial plant. You can divide it in spring or late autumn and the seeds are also edible. Good luck! Niki
Last years celeriac didn’t ‘bulk up’ and they are still in the ground, will they swell this summer ?
Niki Jabbour says
Unfortunately they will likely ‘bolt’, or start flowering. They’ll use up any reserve they have left to bloom. It’s best to pull them and try again. Sorry!