Celery is an ancient and trendy vegetable. Wild versions from the Mediterranean, were used medicinally in 850 BC. Relatives of celery, though, can be found around the world. The Italians started growing it as a vegetable in the 17th century creating taller stalks that weren't as strongly flavored. Today, celery-based smoothies are popular for detoxing the body.
Whether you're eating or making healthy drinks from celery, it’s easy to grow. Start the seeds indoors now and transplant them into the garden in about 10 weeks. The key to successful celery growing is to give it cool, moist growing conditions and rich, compost-amended soil.
There are a number of varieties, such as Tall Utah, Tango and even Pink celery. Even though celery likes cool summers, newer varieties are more heat tolerant as long as you keep the soil moist. I like Tango because it's quicker maturing and self-blanching. That means I don't have to cover the stalks to make them more tender.
For other varieties, either mound soil around the plants or wrap the stalks with foil to keep out the sun. Personally, I like a strong celery flavor, so I do neither method and just pick the celery stalks when they're young.
Other than the occasional swallowtail butterfly caterpillar munching on leaves (which is fine with me), celery has few pests. A fun indoor project this time of year is to cut 2 inches off the base of store bought celery and root it in water. In a few weeks pot it up, place it in a sunny window and start eating the new stalks!