How to grow celery and watercress

  • Celery is a marsh plant so it likes constant water. Winter is therefore the ideal season to grow it.
  • Celery likes a soil that’s slightly alkaline with a pH of between 6 and 7.
  • It also likes lots of calcium and magnesium in the soil. An application of dolomite lime (a calcium magnesium carbonate) will add both minerals to your soils. Epsom salts is good for raising magnesium levels.
  • Plant celery plants at least 30 cms apart to create good air circulation among the plants. This helps keep fungal diseases, like rust, at bay.
  • Rob also likes to plant a few cutting celery plants. Cutting celery looks very much like flat-leaf parsley and they do both belong to the family, Apiaceae.
  • Harvest the leaves as well as the stalks of cutting celery. It might look like parsley but it tastes like celery.
  • Cutting celery grows to about 800mm and fed and watered well will last 10-12 months in your garden. The biggest bonus is it doesn’t succumb to rust.
  • The best companion plant for celery is nasturtium, so Rob plants Nasturtium officinale (or Watercress) round his celery plants.
  • Watercress is the third most nutrient-dense vegetable according to ‘The Earth Diet’ by Liana Werner-Gray. It doesn’t need to be planted in water, so long as the soil is kept damp all the time.
  • Watercress is easy to grow from seed or cuttings. It rambles and therefore suppresses weeds.
  • Watercress is great in soups or green smoothies and also makes a wonderful pesto.
  • Rob then feeds the soil with well-composted chicken poo (you can substitute this with sheep pellets or well-rotted horse manure) which gives the plants a nitrogen boost (essential for leafy greens).
  • Rob follows this with a good dressing of volcanic rock dust which is high in calcium and magnesium.
  • He finishes the bed off with a load of compost which acts as a mulch, a weed suppressant and adds a layer of carbon. Carbon improves soil structure, has high water-holding capacity, and allows more oxygen to enter the soil which increases root growth.
  • Lastly, water it all in well.
  • After a couple of weeks give your plants a feed of liquid fish fertiliser. Continue to feed with an animal manure or fish fertiliser every 3 weeks or so during the growing season.

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes