Celery offsets, the allotment and the Sharks Fin Melon is still alive.


Celery offsets, the allotment and the Sharks Fin Melon is still alive.

I planted some celery (variety: Victoria) in early summer which, now it is winter, is huge and only lightly touched with frost. Only a couple of leaves have slightly curled and the flavour is crisp, watery, mild and with a hint of saltiness – ie, perfect! This is a surprise to me as the things were bitter and soapy tasting in late summer, but I have to admit I know practically nothing about growing the stuff, I prioritise perennials not biennials, I just had the plants (and the land) spare.

But digging the plant up I spotted there were mini plants on the outside of the rootbase – offsets!. Offsets are what we use to clone plants such as artichokes and skirret, making new young plants that restart their lifecycles as juveniles (mostly and with a fair wind). So theoretically I can replant this biennial celery plant to harvest next year and without fear of it flowering. I rushed home to my greenhouse, peeled off the offset with a bit of what I hope is root and popped it in a pot with some compost. I am, of course, experimenting and I don’t know what the outcome will be, so don’t expect this post to be factual or particularly informative. I have high hopes, because if this technique turns out to be reliable that means that this is one less packet of seeds I need to buy and therefore increases my gardening self reliance.

My celery is on the allotment providing cover for my plot toads and frogs (but not cover for my plot fox). The frogs and toads also get the verges of the grass paths which is kept long for them, some mulch and compost piles, but sadly I see that the raspberries don’t maintain the cover they supplied in the autumn. I support my amphibian friends because they surprise me and make me laugh, because it increases biodiversity (and everyone keeps telling me I should want this and I see no reason why I should disagree) but especially because they eat slugs. I may make an especially wild amphibious super highway of grass and wildflowers for them to wander around the plot unseen.

They like it at the bottom of my plot, I presume because it gets boggy with all the water running down the hill. The top of the plot I am letting go because I just can’t cope with the massive infestation of mare’s tail. It really is that bad. The protestant work ethic that I have not entirely lived up to, but is there in me anyway, protested against my defeat at the rhizomes of a mere weed but good sense asserted itself. It really is a proper infestation and I would do better to look for another half plot somewhere else. I’ve been busy transplanting the plants I want to keep such as the comfrey (which I use to grow fertiliser) and a seedless grapevine. The bottom half of the plot is very fertile, I took home large crops of runner beans, shallots and potatoes. I failed badly with the squashes and the sweetcorn (they didn’t pollinate properly producing patchy corns) but that wasn’t really down to the soil that was down to the gardener.

Oh and the Shark’s Fin Melon is still alive in my back garden….


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