For the successful storage of celery the air should be kept cool and fairly moist. This crop should be stored before hard freezing weather and the tops should be dry when the plants are stored. Ventilation is generally necessary on warm days.
Home gardeners often protect the crop in the winter where it was grown by ridging the soil until the tops are nearly covered. Corn stalks or other coarse litter is then placed over the row and held in place with boards or earth. As the weather gets colder, coarse manure is added to the depth of 4 or 5 inches, covering the entire ridge. By this method the celery is kept fresh and crisp, but taking it out during the winter is rather inconvenient.
Other home gardeners store in cellars. The plan is successful in the absence of furnaces and heating pipes, for the room must be kept cool and moist. The plants are simply set close together with some soil about the roots and watered if necessary. Boards may be set up along the sides of the bedded plants to hold them in place and to protect them from light. Under favorable conditions there will be some growth and the plants will continue to blanch.
In certain sections market gardeners ridge as high as possible, place a line of hay or straw over the tops, cover with a strip of oiled paper made for the purpose and then cover the paper with more hay. This plan is particularly desirable in sections where the weather is not very severe.
Hotbeds and cold frames are very satisfactory. They may be dug to a greater depth if necessary, or an additional frame may be placed on the permanent frame to secure the required depth. The plants are set nearly as close together as possible, and the frame covered with boards lapped to shed rain. In severe climates, sash should be used, when straw or rye-straw mats may be placed on the sash and covered with lapped boards. The sash can be blocked up on warm days to secure the needed ventilation. This is a highly satisfactory method for all sections.
Trenching has long been a popular method for storing this crop. A trench 10 or 12 inches deep is dug in the garden or the field where the crop is grown. It should be deep enough to receive the plants so the tops will not protrude more than about 2 inches above ground. Trenching in most sections may begin any time after the middle of October. When the tops are perfectly dry, the plants are lifted with some soil and set close together in the trench. The boards which have been used for blanching are nailed together in V form and placed over the trenched plants. If the weather is warm after trenching, blocks or stones should be placed under the edges of the boards to admit air. When the nights become cold and there is some freezing, a light furrow of soil is thrown along the base of the boards. Later the boards are covered with manure, increasing the depth as necessary. Trenching is most generally used when the crop is to be sold rather early in the winter.
Fig. 80. celery storage house.
Temporary and permanent pits are often used when the crop is stored and managed as explained for hotbeds and cold frames.
Many growers have especially constructed houses. Figure 80 shows a house in Wayne County, Pa. The description which follows has been furnished by the owner, "Our celery house is 50 by 150 feet, with walls 6 1/2 feet high at the lowest corner, and about 4 1/2 feet at the upper side. The walls are 14 inches thick, made of concrete, with a 2 to 3-inch air space in the center. These double walls are bound together by 1/2-inch iron rods, three to the square yard.
"Twelve windows are in the side walls, just under the plates or sills, while there are four in each end, just above the sills. The top of the wall is level, and the gable ends are of 7-inch studding, with flooring used on both sides, the north end being packed with straw. The painted iron roof is supported by 8-inch rafters, ceiled underneath with flooring. This space is also packed with straw or cheap hay. This roof is held up by 24 purlin posts, set on concrete abutments.
"The two double doors are large enough for a team to enter. They are opened by raising, being balanced by weight-boxes, hung over 16-inch sheave wheels. There are two sets of ventilators in each end, about 20 inches wide, and 12 feet long. These are double, hinged at the top, one opening outward. This one is held at different angles by ratchet irons, while the inside one buttons either open or shut. There is also a ventilator 1 foot wide the whole length of the roof, near the peak, on the east side. On the upper side, these doors are covered with iron roofing, and are held open or shut by ratchet irons. The under doors drop down when open.
"We have a walk in the center, two planks wide, on purlin beams, for convenience in operating the ventilators. The windows are in double sets, one outside of the wall, and the other inside, each half sliding open or shut, either to right or left. There is a brick chimney near the center of the house, as we need a stove for keeping an even temperature in very cold weather, and also for heating water while washing the celery. We do not like to let the temperature change very much, because changes cause the condensation of moisture on the plants. This should be avoided. The house, which has been very satisfactory, will hold about $2,000 worth of celery. It cost about $2,700".
Manure ............................ 30 to 50
Fifty cubic yards of barnyard manure..... 25 to 50
Commercial fertilizers ................... 50 to 100
Seed and production of plants............ 10 to 25
Setting out plants....................... 15 to 25
Loss on lumber used in blanching........ 10 to 20
Cost of 350 crates and packing........... 60 to 100
Total $235 to $455.
The city cold storage houses are used extensively for the care of the crop until celery from Florida and California begins to arrive. The crates, which are packed in the rough in the field, are placed, without further attention, in cold storage rooms, with provision made for the necessary air spaces between the crates. This is a convenient method for the grower, but the quality of cold storage celery is always inferior to that which has been held on the farm under more natural conditions.
Small areas of celery sometimes produce at the rate of $2,000 gross returns an acre. While this is unusual, it shows the great possibilities of this crop. Market gardeners who irrigate frequently secure gross incomes of $1,200 an acre. When total receipts on a large scale amount to $800 an acre it is considered excellent, while $500 is more common perhaps. The cost of producing and marketing an acre of celery varies greatly. Beattie ("Celery Culture," p. 130) gives the following estimate:
Rental of land or interest on investment... $20 to $60 Ten days* team work, including hauling Celery commands a price of 10 to 75 cents a dozen plants. Twenty-five to 40 cents is the usual range of prices. Extensive commercial growers regard $100 an acre as a fair net profit. Market gardeners usually do much better than this.