Celery can be quite a difficult crop to grow if you try to grow it from seed.

It takes a long time to germinate in cool weather.

The best idea to grow celery successfully in cool climates is to start with strong seedlings purchased from a nursery

and transplant them into prepared ground with COF about mid October once the weather has warmed up a little.

If you do this they should bear well for you over summer, autumn and winter.

The only problem with the timing of this planting is that if you get a cool run of weather, the celery plants will be stimulated to run to seed once the weather warms, thinking they have already over wintered.

Space your seedlings at 30cm x 30cm centres. This way they will help each other to grow strong and tall through competition.

If you are sowing seed, sow it in shallow drills mixed with some finely sieved compost.

It will germinate more easily this way and as long as you keep the compost moist, it should germinate within a couple of weeks.

If it is grown from seed from about mid October, you should have no problems with it running to seed.

Most celery varieties these days do not need blanching, but if you like your celery stalks white like I do,

cover the plants with a milk carton or a 30 cm length of poly pipe sawn in half so that the stalks are excluded from the light.

Use rubber bands to hold the 2 sections of pipe together.

Sprinkle snail bait around the plants as you do not want slugs to make a home within the covers you have established.


Side dress the plants regularly with COF or water with Comfrey tea.

Celery plants love water and must be given liberal and regular amounts to grow well, especially in the heat of summer.

You can start to use the outer stalks about mid December in salads.

They are fully mature by late Autumn which is when I use them in soups.

You do not need to cut the entire plant as market gardeners do.

Celery tolerates continuous light pickings through the Winter months lasting until it bolts to seed in the Spring.




Celeriac is grown exactly like celery and needs more space.

If you crowd celeriac, it does produce a useful bulbous root.

60x 60 cm spacings is the minimum spacing required for best results.

Celeriac bulbs need to grow large and lush to be useful.


As you need to peel away the thicker outer coating, there isn't much left if you don't let them grow large enough.


Lettuce can be successfully grown all the year in a cool climate proving that you choose the right varieties

and use cloches in the winter to keep the lettuce growing strongly.

Lettuce must be grown quickly to develop the best taste.

It tends to become bitter when not given enough water or when not fed well enough with COF.

Lettuce seed can be sown directly in shallow furrows on well prepared ground.

Only sow a few seeds at a time and stagger your plantings so that you get continuing growth and maturity throughout the summer.

Bear in mind that as the days lengthen, lettuces will increase their growth rate so that you need to shorten the time between sowings.

The table below shows the varying rates at which lettuce plants double their size in Tasmania's Tamar Valley.

Date Doubling Period Diameter of plants emerging September 1st Diameter of plants emerging October 21st
Sept 1
21 days
Sept 21
16 days
Oct 7
14 days
Oct 21
11 days
Nov 1
9 days
Nov 10
8 days
Nov 18
8 days
Nov 26
7 days
Dec 3
7 days
Dec 10
7 days

From: Solomon,Steve, "Growing Vegetables South of Australia", Solomon,Exeter, Tasmania 2002, p.116

Lettuce spacing is 30cm x 30 cm.

It benefits greatly from waterings with Comfrey tea which provide a foliar fertiliser rich in calcium, potassium and phosphorus along with vitamins A,C and B12.

Lettuce seedlings planted October 4th

I grow largely loose leaf lettuce as it is nutritionally superior to the Iceberg types.



The same lettuce crop on November 17







In the winter time I cover my lettuce with plastic lined wire netting to form a cloche.

This raises the temperature within the cloche by at least 4 degrees, which is enough to keep the loose leaf varieties growing strongly.

English Spinach

English Spinach is a very natural crop for cool climate gardens.

It produces abundantly throughout the year if you sow the correct variety and feed it well with extra blood & bone for nitrogen.

Spinach is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.It is an excellent source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber,

Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

It is also high in Sodium.



For Spring harvest, sow ordinary varieties in July/ August if at all possible, certainly no later than mid September.

For early summer harvest sow only summer varieties.

It is easiest to do this in mid October and early November for harvest before the end of February.

Spinach is most tolerant of cold weather so may be sown in late June and throughout July.

Many of the punnets of seedlings sold by nurseries run to seed in the warmer weather.

Prepare the bed with 250 gms of COF per square metre. Sow the seeds in shallow furrows about 1 cm deep .

Thin out to 30 cm spacings as the seedlings emerge and start to put on size.

You can start to pick the leaves regularly as soon as they are large enough to eat. 10 plants will be adequate to feed a family or 4.

Silver beet

Silver beet is actually a beetroot bred for leaf instead of root.

It will survive through a cool climate winter as long as the ground does not freeze.

If fertilised a bit in the autumn it will put on growth whenever there is a bit of sunshine.

In the winters we have been experiencing in recent years, we have picked leaves from our silver beet every week

until it went to seed in late October. 4 or 5 plants placed 30 cm apart are adequate for a years supply.


I usually make a single planting of Fordhook Giant in November, and this lasts through the late summer, autumn and winter.



This page was last updated on 14/01/2018