Par-Cel Leaf Celery Seeds - (Apium graveolens v. secalinum)
- Seed Count:
- Approx 100 seeds per pack
- Days to Maturity:
- 72 days
- Days to Germination:
- 21-30 days @ 60-75F
- Plant Spacing:
- Light Preference:
- Full sun to partial shade
- Heirloom, Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO seeds
Par-Cel Leaf Celery - Tons of Flavor and So Easy to Grow
Looking like triple-curled parsley and tasting like a very bold version of celery, Par-Cel is a somewhat unknown 18th-century Dutch heirloom, but that is changing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, home gardeners are leading the way in growing this leaf celery because it gives them homegrown celery flavor without the huge space requirements or hilling and blanching needed for stalk celery.
Much hardier and easier to grow than stalk celery, it’s great for smaller container and herb gardens with a significantly longer season. Naturally vigorous, it shines as a cut-and-come-again summer salad crop. Young leaves are a counterpoint in salads, while mature ones are used as a seasoning herb in dressings or soups, stews, pies, and stuffing.
Leaf celery, as Par-Cel is also known, is the easiest variety of celery to grow. It is great for container and small herb gardens, as the compact plants grow to around 18-20” tall, is very leafy, and happily grow in containers that can be moved undercover in winter to extend the growing season.
This is celery’s ancestor, as close to its wild relatives as a cultivated plant can get. It has a stronger, more herby, and assertive flavor than stalk celery, giving more flavor to dishes.
Par-Cel is also known as smallage in England, cutting celery, Chinese celery or ‘Kintsai’, herb celery, and soup celery. Italians know it as ‘Verde da Taglio’ and its modern German name is ‘Schnittsellerie’. The Par-Cel variety was first spread by German settlers, who knew it as Zwolsche Krul.
Bred for its abundant dark leaves and thin stalks, Par-Cel usually grows 18 - 20” tall, but can top 3’ in warmer, long-season gardens. It is almost all leaf with slender, hollow stalks, looking like a larger version of Italian parsley but with a more pronounced flavor.
Plants withstand heat and drought and are remarkably cold tolerant, lasting well into late fall and easily overwintering 10 - 20°F lows. It is very vigorous once established, and a couple of plants will easily keep a small family supplied with flavorful leaves.
Hung upside down in a ventilated area, the stalks dry very well and can be stored whole or crumbled, retaining their fresh flavor.
Leafy celery originated as a Mediterranean marsh plant and was described as being used medicinally before 850 BC, ancient literature reports widespread use by both Greeks and Romans, even into the Middle Ages.
Celery, as we know it today, was bred in the 17th century for larger stalks.
The hollow, crisp stalks are more concentrated with flavor, so add them to pretty much anything that needs a bright, refreshing bite, soups, stews, salads, or sandwiches.
When the weather cools, use it in mirepoix – the French combination of carrots, onion, and celery – for soups and other autumn dishes.
Par-Cel dries exceptionally well, yielding a potent herb that lasts well beyond its fresh season. Simply hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area until dry, then harvest the leaves, seeds, and stalks for separate uses as their flavors will differ in intensity.
The leaves have a bright, strong, assertive flavor, giving depth and complexity to dishes. A few leaves are superb in salads, especially when paired with strong blue cheese or cured meats, as they bring a sweetness to the dish.
Harvest individual stalks for fresh use by cutting close to the root ball, the plant will continue to thrive and grow more.
Dried, ground seeds make a great seasoning with their fresh, clean taste, especially combined with sea salt.
The fresh, clean taste is quite memorable, and you might find that you are unable to settle for the washed-out flavors of store-bought celery again.
Leaf celery is so easy to grow, it is almost effortless, especially compared to stalk celery.
Sow the seed on the surface of the soil, because they require light to germinate, pressing lightly into the surface to make good contact for moisture.
They can be slow to sprout, taking up to 21 days at 50-65°F, so be patient. Sow about 8” apart and their wild genes will do the rest - with no pampering or extra feeding, they’ll reward you with a summer and winter of leaves. It is exceptionally hardy and can take 10°F temperatures easily.
Leaf celery repels cabbage white butterflies, so is a good companion for brassicas. It is also beneficial for leeks, onions, spinach, tomatoes, and French beans.
Flowers that like leaf celery are cosmos, daisies, and snapdragons.
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This is a durable biennial plant for the southern gardener. It endures temps in excess of 100 degrees and wilts lightly with freezing temps only to rebound. Delightful celery flavor that is good fresh or dried.
This is great for containers, and is usable in salads, and cooking. It holds up well in hot weather. The leaf is not curly, and is very similar to flat leaf parsley.
Grew this variety for some years, but the seed became hard to find and we tried other varieties of leaf celery. This is the only one that thrived in our sometimes crazy Ozark climate and that also had the rich flavor we prized. So glad to see that Terroir Seeds is carrying it.
Germination and growth were good. Leaves had a distinct celery taste. We planted one half of a bed with it and the other half with Utah bunch celery. The Utah went to seed while Par-Cel continued to produce some good leaves. A nice alternative to bunch celery. Over all did well in this area.