The Miracle of  Growing Food Regeneratively

Creating Local Food Security & Healthy, Vibrant, Regenerated Living Soil, & Nutrient Dense Food

GROWING SHOOT VEGETABLES

 

 

CONTENTS:

 

1. CELERY

2. FLORENCE FENNEL 

CELERY (Apium graveolens var. dulce)

The old varieties all had to be blanched – that is the stems were tied round with corrugated cardboard and earthed up so the stems were white and tender. There are modern varieties that are so-called self-blanching, but even with these varieties it is worth wrapping with corrugated cardboard for better results, but it’s not necessary if you can’t be bothered. 

Soil & Feeding:

As with celeriac, celery needs well-rotted garden compost at 2 buckets per square metre (yard) incorporated into the top 10cm (4in) of soil; this will provide plenty of rich organic matter and water retention. However, celery also needs growing fast with a good supply of readily available Nitrogen. This can be applied as the celery grows with regular weekly feeds of liquid manure – liquid worm juice from your worm farm, liquid animal manure (horse, cow, sheep), watered down to week tea colour – (see the section: ‘How to Build Soil Fertility’LIQUID MANURES.

Varieties:

 

Elne: has a vigorous habit, full of flavour and early to mature. It is easy to blanch with straw, corrugated cardboard etc., to get white stalks.

Tall Utah Improved: has a crisp and crunchy, compact habit with good bolt resistance. Again, best results if you blanch the stems with corrugated cardboard, etc.

Loretta: is a good quality, vigorous, upright-growing, self-blanching celery, producing deliciously flavoured, smooth, succulent, white sticks.

Golden Self-Blanching: is a compact dwarf type, pale golden leaves, fine flavoured, thick stringless stems, disease resistant.

Nutty: is available from Koanga Institute

http://www.koanga.org.nz/.

It is from an early commercial line that was abandoned because it didn't suit modern agribusiness systems. We grew it last year. It is excellent for harvesting one stalk at a time all winter and spring. The stalks are crunchy, juicy and have a nutty taste... and it is easy to grow.

Sowing:

Celery seeds need light to germinate, so – sow as for celeriac, on the surface and keep damp by covering the seed box or pot with glass or clear plastic, and keep in the light and warmth. Sow late winter/early spring in a seed box or pot, and again in mid summer for an autumn crop. Where the winters are milder you can grow them through the winter sowing in late summer.

Growing:

See ‘Soil & Feeding’.

If you want to grow celery the old way as my grandfather did, then you need to:

1. Dig trenches a half to one spade deep, and one spade width, heaping up the soil either side, with 45cm (18in) between the rows. Spread 6cm (2½in) of well-rotted compost, or manure, in the bottom of the trench, and cover with 2.5cm (1in) of soil. Plant out the seedlings 30cm (1ft) apart.

2. In mid summer, remove any suckers from near the base and wrap the stalks with corrugated cardboard, brown paper or several layers of newspaper. This prevents soil getting between the stalks.

3. Then fill the trench with soil from the sides to the bottom of the leaves. As the celery grows, pile up soil twice more at three-week intervals, sloping the soil on the sides to drain off rain and prevent rotting.

Harvesting:

I usually use an old kitchen knife or machete (panga), cutting round and under the swollen stem at the base, cutting off the roots and leaving them in the ground to rot. I then trim off the majority of the leaves, unless you want them for salad, soup or as a dressing like chopped parsley. If you are not using all the stems straight away – keep fresh by placing the plant in a jar with some water, either in the fridge or on a windowsill.

Possible Pests and Diseases:

Celery Fly: For celery fly, remove the leaves and stems affected regularly and spray every 2 weeks with Neem oil.

Celery Leaf Spot (Bacterial blight and brown stem): Remove the leaves and stems affected regularly. Leaf spot is a bacterial disease and so I have been using a strong garlic spray once a week. The easy way is to crush several cloves in a mortar and pestle and pour boiling water over them. Add a few drops of eco liquid soap and dilute with some cold water and pass the liquid through a kitchen sieve and then drench the plants with this spray. Another way is to crush the garlic and soak in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and leave overnight. The next day add a teaspoon of eco soap and add some warm water to the mix, passing the liquid as before through a sieve and dilute with some cold water.

You can also try the Traditional Indian Insecticide Spray in the section ‘Pests & Diseases’HOME MADE ORGANIC INSECTICIDES & FUNGICIDES.

Various fungus blights: To avoid fungus diseases, spray every 2 weeks with Trichoderma viride liquid, or powder thoroughly mixed into water.

Recipes:

I think most of us have used chopped celery in soups, stews, salads and many different recipes. We tend to use it to add flavour, in the same way we use onions, and often together.

Celery Snack These are great snacks I have discovered recently – yum.

Ingredients:

• Celery sticks, trimmed and washed

• Almond nut butter, or peanut butter

• Grated coconut

• Fine sprinkle salt

Method:

1. Fill celery sticks with nut or peanut butter

2. Finely sprinkle with salt

3. Sprinkle with grated coconut

Celery, Apple & Nut Salad

Ingredients:

• 2 cored and chopped apples

• 2 tablespoons chopped celery

• 2 tablespoons chopped nuts

• 2 tablespoons raisins

• Mayonnaise, preferably home made

• Finely shredded raw cabbage

• French dressing, made with 1 part lemon juice, 3 parts olive oil + honey, salt & pepper

Method:

1. Mix together the apples, celery, nuts and raisins with the mayonnaise

2. Serve on a bed of shredded cabbage tossed in the French dressing

FLORENCE FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum)

Many people love Florence fennel. However, it is not easy to grow well, but it is worth persevering for its unique aniseed flavour. It needs to be grown fast and furious to keep it tender and sweet, rather than tough. The swollen stems can be eaten either raw or cooked.

Soil & Feeding:

Rich moisture retentive soil in full sun is required, with a good pH of 6.4 or even higher. 1 or 2 buckets of well-rotted garden compost should be incorporated in the top few centimetres along with 2 handfuls of Eco or Organic Fertiliser, per square metre (yard).

Varieties:  

Romanesco: is a good open pollinated old variety.

I personally stay away from F1 hybrids. 

Sowing:

Florence fennel does not like transplanting as it encourages it to bolt. Sow from mid spring to late summer, little and often, so they don’t all come at once.

Sow in shallow drills outside 45cm (18in) apart, thinning the seedlings to 20cm (8in) apart. 

Growing:

Ensure that the plants do not dry out as they will run to seed and/or get tough. Also weekly feeding with a mild liquid fertiliser made from horse or sheep poo, worm juice or liquid fish manure, will keep them growing.

When the bases begin to swell to form bulbs about the size of golf balls, earth up around them to keep them sweet and tender.

Harvesting:

Cut the heads off two or three weeks after earthing up. This will keep them from running to seed and getting tough. You can then harvest them when you need them, but don’t leave them too long.

Possible Pests and Diseases:

Slugs: Slugs can attack Fennel. Use beer traps in shallow saucers buried up to the brim with beer + water 50/50 – (see the section ‘Pests & Diseases’Traps).

Recipes:

Stuffed Fennel with Ricotta

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Step One:

• 6 large fennel bulbs

Step Two:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

• 1 cup of vegetable stock

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 2 teaspoons rapadua (or brown sugar)

Step Four:

• 1½ cups ricotta cheese

• ¼ cup cream cheese

• 2 tablespoons chopped fennel tops

• Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC (356oF). Coat a 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) baking dish with olive oil. Trim the stalks off the fennel bulbs. Cut in half lengthwise along the broader side of the bulb, so that you have 2 wide fennel halves. Reserve the tops for the filling

2. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan. Add the fennel seeds and sauté over low heat for a minute. Add the vegetable stock, lemon juice and rapadua (or sugar). Bring to the boil. Add fennel bulbs, cut side down, cover and reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the bulbs are tender. Transfer the bulbs to the baking dish cut side up.

3. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce down to about 1/3 cup.

4. While the liquid is boiling down, mix the ricotta, cream cheese and fennel tops together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on the fennel bulbs.

5. Toss together the ground walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil + a sprinkling of salt. Sprinkle over ricotta mixture on each bulb. Bake until crumbs are lightly browned – about 20 minutes.

When the bases begin to swell to form bulbs about the size of golf balls, earth up around them to keep them sweet and tender.

Harvesting:

Cut the heads off two or three weeks after earthing up. This will keep them from running to seed and getting tough. You can then harvest them when you need them, but don’t leave them too long.

Possible Pests and Diseases:

Slugs: Slugs can attack Fennel. Use beer traps in shallow saucers buried up to the brim with beer + water 50/50 – (see the section ‘Pests & Diseases’ – ).

Recipes:

Stuffed Fennel with Ricotta

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Step One:

• 6 large fennel bulbs

Step Two:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

• 1 cup of vegetable stock

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 2 teaspoons rapadua (or brown sugar)

Step Four:

• 1½ cups ricotta cheese

• ¼ cup cream cheese

• 2 tablespoons chopped fennel tops

• Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC (356oF). Coat a 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) baking dish with olive oil. Trim the stalks off the fennel bulbs. Cut in half lengthwise along the broader side of the bulb, so that you have 2 wide fennel halves. Reserve the tops for the filling

2. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan. Add the fennel seeds and sauté over low heat for a minute. Add the vegetable stock, lemon juice and rapadua (or sugar). Bring to the boil. Add fennel bulbs, cut side down, cover and reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the bulbs are tender. Transfer the bulbs to the baking dish cut side up.

3. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce down to about 1/3 cup.

4. While the liquid is boiling down, mix the ricotta, cream cheese and fennel tops together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on the fennel bulbs.

5. Toss together the ground walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil + a sprinkling of salt. Sprinkle over ricotta mixture on each bulb. Bake until crumbs are lightly browned – about 20 minutes.