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    Bottomless Celery

    October 2, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    If you are like I once was, you waste dollars each month on two little produce items: green onions and celery. What I mean by waste is that you don’t use up all of what you purchased. This was especially true of me in regard to celery. Green onions have, in my opinion, more versatility. But, for quite some time, my son was highly sensitive to nitrates, even natural nitrates, so it wasn’t like I was going to use up the excess celery by filling the stems with peanut butter and serving them as a snack.

    So, my routine was to purchase a whole head of celery {are they called heads?}, and then use two stalks for egg salad, perhaps another in a soup, and leave the rest in the fridge. I felt guilt throwing it out directly {this was before we began composting}, but come next grocery day, I felt compelled to spend another dollar or two on a new whole head {in order to get the three stalks I needed for the week} because the previous head was flimsy and yellow, which means that many of its nutrients were depleted.

    Green onions were a similar situation. I would only buy them when a recipe called for them, but the reason they wasted is because I would forget about them…because I only bought them when a recipe called for them.

    Cycles can be vicious.

    Incidentally, the reason I didn’t have celery in my garden is that I had been told it was notoriously difficult to grow in our area.

    So once upon a time my son E. and I decided to experiment with various produce items. We soaked the ends in water to see what would happen. Carrots, we learned, grow up, in the form of a few little leaves, but they don’t grow down, and that is the part we eat. The little white bottoms of green onions, however, the ones with the little root hairs at the end? The have both top growth and bottom root growth.

    So I had about five or six bottoms, and my son ran out and planted them all next to one of our sprinklers. In no time, we had all the green onions we could ever want, and never wasted any because we only cut them when we were ready to eat them. They grow like grass. Cut the top off, and it’s back in a week or two without fail.

    This summer, though, our “green” onions did something really interesting. As the days got longer {onions are sensitive to daylight}, they bulbed out, surprising us by becoming “regular” onions. I think this means we’ll have to start over soon.

    Somehow this little experiment led to us planting the end of a celery head in our garden “to see what happened.”

    What happened is that we learned that celery is like green onions, only it takes a lot longer. Here we are, months later, and I send my little boy out with a knife to harvest celery stalks once or twice a week. Today he brought me four for a double-batch of soup. Apparently celery is only difficult to grow here if you grow it from seed.

    So, if you are wanting to cut back on kitchen waste {and guilt!}, or if you just think your babies would enjoy watching green things grow from something other than a seed, try planting your kitchen scraps…and see what happens!

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  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts April 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I’m glad it’s working for you, Em! I am looking forward to fencing off part of my garden beds to keep the ducks out. They have discovered green onions and love them and keep them nibbled down to stubs! Very sad…

  • Reply Lift Up Your Hearts April 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I am laughing at myself, that I posted how great this was back in 2009, and just a week or two ago I planted our green onions. I am excited to say that they are indeed growing like crazy! Hooray for green onions!

  • Reply sara October 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    This is exciting! My four-year-old will love this. We will be trying this very soon. Well, I wonder if we have to wait for spring. hmmmm.

  • Reply Lift Up Your Hearts October 3, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Brandy!! You are so resourceful! I have exactly the same problem and will be trying to exact same solution! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Mystie October 2, 2009 at 10:28 pm


  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts October 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Elizabeth–I had no idea! My regular grocery store sells all of these things by the head. However, I’ve been into grocery stores where they were priced by the pound…and bought the whole thing without realizing I could do otherwise! Thanks for the pointer. 🙂

    Rebecca–I am always trying to help you out. 😉

    Ellen–You sound like me! I always think there is a right way to do these things. However, in this instance, it was all an experiment, so I don’t know what the rule of thumb is, but I can tell you that our celery “stump” was 2-3 inches tall. We basically buried it until the stump was sticking out about half-an-inch or an inch. And then we watered it a little every day; more on 100+ hot days. I will say that they were slightly shaded. That wasn’t on purpose, but we planted them near a tomato plant that supersized as time went on. I don’t know if that matters, but it might because I understand celery likes cold weather? I might be wrong about that, hence the question mark.

    If it doesn’t work, it probably isn’t you; might just be that your celery is too far gone. We’ve done this three times now and failed once, even though we followed the same process each time. Now the green onions have a 100% success rate, save the time the sprinkler broke and they died for lack of water.

  • Reply Ellen October 2, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I’ve got celery going back in my crisper right now. Now, specifics on how you do this planing celery thing? I want details… I’m really good at screwing up stuff like this.

  • Reply rebecca October 2, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    That is fantastic. I rarely buy celery because I always have to throw more than half of it out.

  • Reply Elizabeth October 2, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    If the celery you buy is sold by the pound, you don’t have to buy the whole head. You can break off a few stalks and just buy that. It works the same for anything, you can buy just a half a head cabbage, even, if it’s sold by the pound.

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