Friday, 16 September 2016

A jumble of umbels

Today I have been saving the seeds of a huge Leaf Celery plant (which, as of course you know, is an umbellifer - hence the cryptic title of my post).

This is the "jumble of umbels"

The plant in question is one which has been in my garden for the best part of two years now (OK, so you know that Leaf Celery is a biennial, don't you?), and this Summer it has gone to seed in a big way. The stems shot up to a height of about 5 feet, and produced a huge mass of flowers:

The Leaf Celery in early July

I decided today that I ought to remove this plant before its seeds got scattered all over the garden by the gales that Autumn is bound to bring. I also decided that it would be a good idea to save some of the seeds and grow them in controlled conditions. My plan is to grow some of them in little containers on a windowsill, as "microgreens", much like Mustard and Cress.

So, I very carefully cut the plant down, a little at a time, trying hard not to let too many of the seeds drop off. I kept some of the best clumps - maybe 5% of the total? That plant had a LOT of seeds!

Some of the seeds are already ripe (and dropping off in cascades!), but others are still green, so I will need to dry the ones I saved very thoroughly.

Although Leaf Celery is a fairly small plant when at the cropping stage, when it decides to flower, its stalks can get very big:

As I was trimming this plant, I saw that there was plenty of new growth from base level, and it seems likely that it may last a bit longer, so it has had a Stay of Execution and will not be dug up just yet. In any case, I have a feeling that I will be living with its progeny for many years to come!

If like me you enjoy the flavour of Celery but not the texture, you might want to try this plant. It's sometimes called Celery Leaf, and sometimes called Leaf Celery, but although it is related to the normal Celery, it is not the same thing. It has a very pungent aroma and savoury taste, and a little bit goes a long way. I have used it mostly for adding an extra punch to home-made stock.


  1. Will you sow some fresh seed straight away?

    1. Yes, I think I might. There is no shortage of seeds!

  2. Something that looks like the same family is Lovage. Huge, huge beast of a plant and I think is perennial if you wanted something similar that lasts. I like Celery, taste and texture, and grew Giant Red this year - although it is a disappointment as it is so stringy. Was said to be soup celery and it will make excellent soup but I had hoped to eat it raw.

    1. That's why I don't normally like Celery - it's often stringy and sometimes bitter. I just put a couple of leaves of Leaf Celery in a soup or stock and fish them out just before serving. I don't think Lovage would be appropriate in my small garden!

  3. I did the same thing with my bolting parsley plant only a couple of days ago. Normally my parsley turns to mush over the winter but our very mild weather this past winter allowed one of my plants to pull through. I've taken full advantage by letting it go to seed - good thing too as my seeds were a few years old and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get my hands on the same variety again.


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