March 17, 2011 at 8:40 a.m.

Starting celery seeds in March

Starting celery seeds in March
Starting celery seeds in March

March is the best time to start those parsley and celery seeds.

Both part of the 'Umbrelliferae' family, along with fennel, parsley and celery are great plants to always have in your cook's garden. The Greek meaning of parsley is actually 'rock celery'. Rich in vitamins A, K and C, this herb provides great protection against rheumatoid arthritis. Available in Italian flat leaf or curly varieties, both are used in cooking. To plant seeds, use peat based compost with garden soil mixed half and half in deep pots to sow, place in windowsill until mid spring. Then move the plants outside and transplant to the garden in late summer, so you can harvest the herb the following spring. Parsley is a biennial.

The flat leaved parsley has a bit stronger flavor to it compared to the curly parsley. Only add parsley to cooked dishes at the end of cooking for the most flavor. Curly parsley will freeze well and can be used in recipes without needing to thaw it. Just sprinkle water on fresh parsley if it wilts and it should spring back, and can be stored in the fridge to retain the crispness.

To start celery seeds, soak the tiny seeds overnight to encourage germination in a mix of 2/3 compost and 1/3 sand. By covering the seeds with a thin layer of sand and damp burlap, then placing the seeds in bright but indirect sunlight, sprouting will occur quickly. Then remove the burlap and once the plants reach 6" tall, harden them off for about 10 days and transplant in the garden.

Celery leaves are high in Vitamin A and the stems contain B1, B2, B6 and Vitamin C. Celery is known to help reduce high blood pressure and is also a source of the eight families of anti-cancer compounds. Just like parsley, celery will wilt at room temperature. It can be sprinkled with water and put in the refrigerator to regain the crispness. The following are a couple of recipes to try with your new crop of parsley and celery.

Parsley Salad

4 oz. ( 2 Quarts) Italian parsley

2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbls. Lemon zest

6 Tbls. walnut oil

2 teas. Dark semame oil

1 teas. honey

salt and pepper

4 Tbls toasted sesame seeds

Wash and dry the parsley. Pick the leaves & set aside. Discard the stems.

Whisk together lemon juice, zest, walnut & sesame oil, honey, salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and sesame seeds and toss to combine. Let the salad sit about 35 minutes to blend.

Cream of Celery Soup

3 quarts chicken stock

3 lbs. celery, coarsely chopped

½ lb. carrots, julienne

½ lb. onions, chopped

1 cup flour

1 Tbls. salt

1 teas. Ground white pepper

3 quarts hot milk

1 cup butter

Pour the chicken stock into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the pot. Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper & milk. Add the butter. Boil for 12 minutes and use a hand mixer to blend in veggies and serve. ( Does not freeze well.)

*Credit given to: Rodales' All New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening


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