Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Where Does Celery Come From?

I live in an area of the country that is well-known for its chicken wings.  When we order chicken wings, they are traditionally served with a side of carrots, celery, and blue cheese dressing.  (Yum!)  The celery on the plate looks like short little sticks and looks nothing like the plant they come from.  Not only are children surprised these little green sticks are vegetables that come from a plant... they are also surprised when they find out celery is actually the stem of a plant.  Whoa!  This blog post describes a simple science activity you can do with your students to help them answer the question:

Where does celery come from?

Is Celery Really a Plant?

A couple of years ago I had an interesting conversation with my second and third grade class.  We were having a conversation about edible plants and some of the children were grossed out when they made the connection between vegetables and the plants we eat.  Carrots are roots?  Gross!  Lettuce is a leaf?  Gross!  Celery is a stem?  Gross!  The children truly did not know where their vegetables come from.  They knew that vegetables come from the grocery store, often in cans and freezer bags.  They knew they can find fresh vegetables in the produce section... but most of the children did not know how vegetables got from a farm to the store.  There was a serious disconnect that needed to be addressed!

Growing Celery from Scraps

Growing celery from scraps is an easy way to show children that our vegetables are plant parts.  The entire plant is tasty and edible.  We can eat the leaves, stem, and roots.  To grow celery from scraps you will needs:
  • the cut end of a bundle of celery (the fresher, the better)
  • a clear jar or drinking glass
  • water
  • potting soil
  • flower pot

Step One

Place the cut end of the celery bundle into a jar.  Add water to the jar, but do not fill it all the way.  Leave the top part of the celery poking out of the water.  If you cover all of the celery, it will drown.  Put the jar in a sunny window and wait.  In a week or so, you should see some roots growing.  In a few days after that, you should see some leaves growing too!

Step Two

Once the celery plant starts to grow roots and leaves, it is important to transfer it to a flower pot.  At this point, the plant needs the nutrients that are found in soil.  Keep the celery plant in a warm, sunny window and water as necessary.  Be careful to avoid overwatering.  Too much water will drown the plant.  You can place the flower pot on a plate or bowl to help drain the water if you accidentally water it too much.

Step Three

If you care for your celery plant properly, it will grow and grow and grow!  It may grow so much that you will need to transplant it into a larger pot or decide to plant it in your garden.  When celery is fully mature, it can be 12 to 18 inches tall.

Step Four

Harvest and enjoy eating your celery!  You do not need to harvest your celery all at once; you can harvest as much as you need when you need it.  This plant has had numerous stalks picked from it and it is still thriving.

Do you grow celery in your garden?  Do you have any tips or suggestions to help people grow their celery outdoors?  If so, share them in the comments below!  

(Next Article: World Rhino Day)

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