I don’t know why, but the word “Par-cel” makes me think of the square dance call “do-si-do.”It just has a nice sound to it and since it is an amazing cultivar of Leaf Celery ( Apium graveolens var. secalinum). It makes me want to dance for joy, I feel like yelling lets Par-cel through the garden!If you have never heard of Leaf Celery than you need to try it! I find every year that I grow more of my own food on our urban potager, I find a new addition that makes me wonder, “Why don’t they sell this plant locally.” It is an amazing little plant that tastes like celery. In America we are used to purchasing celery(Apium graveolens var.dulce) which is grown for its thick, crunchy stalks. I have a shorter growing season, so when I found a “cutting celery” that would pack an excellent punch of celery flavor it was a no brainer. I can now grow celery flavor in a BIG way in my small garden.
If you have never heard of Leaf Celery than you need to try it next year. It is also known sometimes as smallage, cutting celery or chinese celery. It is becoming more well-known as urban gardeners are looking for more space-saving vegetables to plant in smaller areas or containers.I tried the Leaf Celery cultivar Par-cel this year and I really enjoyed this one in particular. It has a much larger leaf which reminds me of my moss parsley. It is a bit more substantial when I use it in my recipes that call for celery. I just cut the thin stems and leaves up with my onions and toss it in any recipes that require celery flavoring. I have the perennial herb lovage in my garden, but I find this particular biennial plant has a much “richer” recognizable celery flavor. It closely resembles our wild celery
It is a biennial, but I grow it in our urban potager as an annual. When I open a package of these seeds, the best part is, you will smell the celery!
Other gardeners suggest you don’t try to germinate leaf celery outside. I have found this to be true and have had much better success with germination under lights inside. I usually start mine in the late winter or early spring. It transplants perfectly to the garden. This year I grew it in its own bed + it is still growing beautifully in November.
Leaf celery is a “cut-and-come-again” celery flavored plant you can add to a variety of dishes. I suggest using it in soups, stews, casseroles, stir fry or lightly saute with other vegetables.
Next year, I think that it could be tucked in all kinds of places for it is a lovely small plant. Possibly mixed with fall Kale. They say Leaf Celery will grow up to 18 inches tall (9-12 inches wide)but I found the Leaf Celery cultivar Par-Cel only grew to 12 inches. It has a beautiful dark green color and if you did not know the difference you would mistake it for a curly moss in the garden. There are different varieties that look a bit more like cilantro, but this variety has quite large leaves that I find attractive + abundant for cooking!
I decided to gather my Par-cel + tall leaves of Kale to have for dinner.
I chop up my Leaf Celery/Par-cel and saute it lightly in olive oil with kale. I love the fact, I don’t have to purchase organic celery from the grocery store anymore. Organic celery is starting to cost too much at the local store. We paid almost six dollars for a large bunch this past year. The store bought could not hold a candle to the flavour of our home-grown Par-cel. Another organic vegetable to take off my weekly shopping list! My Leaf Celery will be weaving in and out of our potager beds every year for it can Par-cel where it may also do-si-do!