Genesee Farmer 21(7): 220 (July 1860)

CHARCOAL AS A BLANCH FOR CELERY

A Writes in the Gardener’s Monthly says: "Permit me to coin a noun expressive of a new use to which I have lately put this useful substance.

As a mulch, its value is universally recognized. As a blanch, I find it superior to any material I have ever tried, including earth, dry sand, sawdust, tan-bark, leaves, hay, litter, etc. Its advantages are manifold: no slug or insect will harbor in it; it drains perfectly; retains the solar warmth without over-heating the plant; absorbs all the ammoniacal gasses arising from the application of liquid or other fertilizers; will not rust the stalk; is easily washed out of the celery when dug, and can be used many times over with little loss, by proper management, also, two rows of celery may be grown where one is by the old method.

Dig trenches two feet apart, about eight inches wide, and six deep, and fill up to the level of the ground with a rich compost of loam, well decomposed manure, and tanners' hair refuse, (the latter being the best possible food for celery, and obtainable at the same price as stable offal,) and set oat the plants about eight inches apart in single rows. On either side of the rows, about six inches distant, commencing at one end, drive two stakes, say three feet long, and one to one and a half inches square, one inch apart, to allow a board to slip in between them, and repeat the stakes at intervals of five feet, or thereabouts, the entire length of your rows of plants; then between the stakes put boards twelve to fourteen inches wide, and a piece of board at each end of the trench, connecting their ends.

The young plants will need shading for a few days after transplanting, if the trenches run north and south; if east and west, they will not require it.

Draw the earth slightly away from the base of the boards, to form a feeding trough, into which pour liquid manure frequently during the growing season. When the leaf of the central stalk or heart of the plant shows itself above the board, fill in the whole space with coarsely pulverized charcoal (cinders from the smoke-stack of locomotives, or the braise of old charcoal hearths), holding the stalks snugly together in the left hand while filling in with the right. After a few days, place a second set of boards, which may be connected by cross-pieces nailed on at intervals on the top of the first, and repeat the blanching as before. I have found two blanchings to be sufficient.

For winter celery, the trenches should be dug four feet apart, one and a half feet wide, and the plants in two rows nine inches asunder.

They may be banked up in the usual way, first throwing a little litter on the top. Celery thus treated will keep perfectly; the loose texture of the charcoal preventing its becoming solid by the action of frost.

It may be objected that the above plan is more expensive than the traditional method; but it will be productive of so much higher quality, longer blanched stocks, greater crispness and whiteness and certain exemption from rust and decay, as fully to warrant the apparent increased outlay. If the boards are well coated with gas-tar or good boiled linseed oil, they will last many years; and the charcoal is worth, for general garden purposes, more than its cost, if not required again for blanching.