Pro­tect cele­riac and start har­vest­ing

Gardeners' World - - Monty’s Month - VISIT gar­den­er­ fruit-veg for more on cele­riac and other veg

Ev­ery fam­ily has its mi­nor ri­tu­als and one of ours is that I make cele­riac purée for Christ­mas din­ner, and cele­riac and chest­nut soup for Box­ing Day. Both are, though I say it my­self, com­pletely de­li­cious. Cele­riac is in many ways a hard sell – it is warty and mis­shapen and sits un­easily be­tween root and stem. But it is well worth grow­ing. This year’s dry con­di­tions were a chal­lenge for it as it needs rich soil and must never dry out. It also has a long grow­ing sea­son, ger­mi­nat­ing as tiny seedlings in March and never ready to lift un­til Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber. But the earthy, cel­ery taste is a joy. When lifted, trimmed, peeled, washed and boiled un­til soft, then mashed with masses of but­ter, cream and freshly ground black pep­per, it is the per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to a Christ­mas turkey or – as I much pre­fer – goose. Cele­riac is not fully hardy, so the plants should be mulched thickly with straw to pro­tect them from heavy frosts. Yet even so, I have in the past had to re­sort to us­ing a pick­axe to prise the roots from frozen ground in or­der to main­tain our Christ­mas tra­di­tion.

gar­den­er­ De­cem­ber 2018

Har­vest cele­riac in small batches, leav­ing the rest in the ground, mulched with straw, un­til you are ready to use them

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