Par-Cel dancing through my fall gardens as the fall  leaves do-si-do by...
Par-Cel dancing through my fall gardens as the fall leaves do-si-do by…

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.

next to dried up zinnias Par-cel is happing being alone and green...
next to dried up zinnias Par-cel is happy being alone and green…

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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I decided to gather my Par-cel + tall leaves of Kale to have for dinner.

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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!

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

48 comments

  1. How lovely, your gorgeous photos make it look so enticing. I used to grow this years ago but I had forgotten all about it. You have inspired me to grow it again next year. You can never buy Parcel in the shops. A great idea, chopping it up with Kale.

    1. I found a place that sells a few cultivars-

      http://www.seedaholic.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=leaf+celery&x=0&y=0

      I have not grown the red one-sounds interesting. It amazes me they don’t sell this useful plant. I use my lovage in stews, but when I saute this little plant it is so dense that it fills a pan with this glorious pile of celery greens. Best part it comes back when you cut it! When you open the packet of seed-do take a “whiff”…amazing celery scent!

    1. I have to admit, I grow the food, harvest + cook some of it but my amazing husband makes bread out of the breadmaker:-) It was a goal of mine all these years but I have not yet done it…on the agenda when we retire-if we do:-)
      The last picture is Par-cel, kale and other veggies wrapped-my veggie wraps:-)

  2. I have a confession to make. I will say this only once and you are NOT to repeat it on threat of death…when I was a teenager, my best friends mum got seriously into square dancing and we all ended up wearing the big skirts, do-si-doing furiously and predominately dancing with each other because there were about 3 men (2 of them prehistoric and one predominately gay) that attended dance days on a regular basis. I did meet my very first boyfriend (travelling and noticed the meeting and dropped in, not prehistoric and most definitely not gay 😉 ) through square dancing so I guess it wasn’t all bad…

    Never heard of par-cel before. I am guessing it is a cross between celery and parsley? I know that there is a parsley that you can eat the root from, maybe this is it? (Maybe narf should just read on before commenting and find out! 😉 )…I see…leafy celery aka Greta Garbo eh? Might have to look into it but as it is a U.S. endemic, might be a bit tricky here.

    I was just thinking that it looks like teeny tiny celery for fairies and BAM there was a stone fairy looking like she was certainly admiring it. Best watch out if your par-cel starts to go missing. It might not be slugs…

    I am sure that Ms Pauline is going to be most interested in something teeny tiny to tuck into one of her lush pots. I am interested and will see if I can source it over here from one of my “sources” (narf winks and touches the side of her nose knowingly…) you just never know what people are growing in their gardens. I found out that the lady up the road that has a little stall out the front of her house that sells “plants” for $2 and that I plunder for chives, strawberries, canna lilies and anything else that is useful in my garden (and grown locally so it should do well in our conditions) has oca tubers growing. If you talked to this lady you wouldn’t think that she would grow something as weird as oka but she does. It appears she inherited it from the last home owner a bit like we inherited our forget-me-nots and our blackberries and our boneseed weed…her previous house owner was a lot more garden minded than ours! ;). I love reading about how you are socking it to “the man” (the dreaded “middle man” my arch nemesis!) by growing your own and facilitating change in your own back yard. You revolutionary you! 🙂

    1. lol-you make me laugh every time you stop by…I love Wednesday since I get to read your blog + I finally finish my post. You beat me today! It is like visiting over a cup of tea every Wednesday:-)We have a beautiful day today which will be the last + I am just sitting here eating my freshly harvested Par-cel + kale over a lovely bed of brown rice. YUM…I sat down near my computer and saw your post-had to respond!! I will be visiting you this afternoon ( our time) to read your weekly Wednesday post. I enjoy the fact you post on the same day so I know when to stop by. I have to trust my reader for the other “down-unders” that I read loyally:-)
      Did you hear-I WON!!!I get to shop at Wendy’s new store today since I won! I just had to brag- I won:-)I have been feeling a bit down about cold weather coming which means, no biking( outside), garden growing, etc…but I get to wash in Wendy’s soap this winter-now isn’t that the best..plus, I WON something:-) Made my day:-)
      I also met some interesting people through Pauline, she is so wise, talented + knows some pretty cool people-YOU are one of her amaizngs!
      Well, off to collect my chocolate mint ( next weeks post) + this afternoon will sit down and visit with your on your blog…I am so blessed to have met all you amazing people…
      +
      I get to hear all about shhhh( no one is listening) you did some do-si-doing of your own! For teen girls it always involves a “boy” that gets them places-tee hee. I was the same way.
      There are some fun people that do it + they sew those amazing costumes.
      Par-Cel cultivar of Leaf Celery is of the same family as Celery:

      Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
      Genus: Apium (AY-pee-um) (Info)
      Species: graveolens var. secalinum
      Cultivar: Par-Cel
      ( taken for Dave’s garden:
      http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/98351/#b
      here is the other Celery( stalk type):
      Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
      Genus: Apium (AY-pee-um) (Info)
      Species: graveolens var. dulce
      Cultivar: Tango
      Here is Celeriac type (bulb):
      Read more: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/98051/#ixzz3IDgskRWL
      Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
      Genus: Apium (AY-pee-um) (Info)
      Species: graveolens var. rapaceum
      Cultivar: Diamant
      http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/98161/#b

      there is the wild celery, so I have not researched that part yet- I did grow celery stalk type this year + found the flavor from this little Par-cel cultivar was very useful in cooking. It has some bulk, so it really added flavor and can be grown in containers right out the front door. It also keeps past frost!! I will keep you posted about a hard freeze if it lasts for days. So far it is lovely and green and very tasty. I am growing more next year, but it is a bit touchy with germination. I found under lights it does great!
      I figure it has all the same nutritional benefits of regular celery.
      Off to work in the garden-will see you over my afternoon cup of tea either my “blog” or your “blog” or as we say over the cyber fence’
      Par-cel-my dear! do-si-do-lol

      1. 😉 You found me through Ms Pauline? I must remember to send that check to her bank account ;). I have read about parsley that is grown for harvesting the root but never one that is like celery and it intrigues me. I will be looking it up and seeing if I can find it locally or at least on the mainland. We don’t get a lot of frost here and no freezes so we could probably keep par-cel going all year round. I am contemplating where to plant out my turmeric and cardamom plants that need to go out in the garden ASAP. My blog post is full to the back teeth of photos of what we have been up to. I am trialing less words, more photos. Hope you enjoy it and it is certainly easier to read this way ;). Loved your post and your possibilities. I always come away enthused and invigorated and SO very glad that we met and communicate over the fence every Wednesday 🙂

      2. oh…I did not finish my before gardening tea-“green-tea” grown locally in North Carolina-only place in USA. Let me know what you find out about this celery. Also if you find any about which one is similar to “wild celery”…you know, I would send you seed for I just got some..if we could find a way????? let me know:-)I am eager to visit your blog! Sounds like fun for It is our last day in the 60’s!!!

      3. We will be up in the 100’s come January while you are languishing in the freezing temperatures. Can you imagine spending Christmas in the heat? Having a bbq and wearing light clothes and drinking cold drinks to cool you down? That’s what we have every year 🙂

      4. No, I can’t. You mean you have warm weather at Christmas:-) No chestnuts roasting for you- YOU would be roasting! lol. Crazy-it would take some getting use to for me!

      5. The kind you grow yourself are always the best because you get satisfaction thrown into all of the other emotions that come with growing plants and veggies from seed 🙂

  3. Eavesdropping in on you and Narf was as much fun as reading the original post Robbie. I too did ‘Barn Dancing’ in my tame youth and thoroughly enjoyed it! I still indulge in a little Line Dancing from time to time because you don’t need a partner for that! I have never heard of any of the plants you refer to here, but will have a good hunt round and see what can find. Such a genius genus 🙂 would be most welcome here! I have two celerys planted and they are getting too big already. I shall have to harvest them fairly small I think. Off to write up my notes!
    xoxo

    1. That is the fun part of being in a community of bloggers-we all get to know each other an can banter back and forth! I love it when new people join the conversation + become apart of the cyber village( your coined term). I know it is fun to read posts from the “Great Narf” she is one creative soul. When she gets her muses going-WATCH OUT. I have no doubt:-) she does not sleep much at night-how could she for her mind is always going. I bet she would write a great post about do-si-doing!
      Now line dancing that is a fun thing to do:-) That is good exercise too:-) This plant is a great little one. Let me know if you can’t find the seed. I will help you out( wink-wink)-if we can:-)
      I may search in your area on line to see if I can find a source for you all. Yep, I’ll do that for you would love growing this + cooking with it. But to tell you the truth, if you can get celery to grow in your climate you may not need this stuff. If you harvest them fairly small well, that should be okay. I know stalk celery is a bit more needy of water. I found this stuff not so needy of water. It sat sometimes in the garden and I forgot to water it-it did great! The stalk celery, I grew needed a bit more water…soooo..I am thinking maybe it is more drought tolerant. I found it had more “celery” flavor than my “stalk” I grew..go figure????
      I will start my November goal tomorrow–video + stationary bike!!! I plan to do it:-) thank you for introducing me to some great motivators:-)

  4. So funny–I was just finishing up my reading here so I could go chop celery for tonight’s Chicken Curry and saw your post. The Par-cel looks great–I love that you can smell the celery in the seeds! I want to try it! I haven’t had luck growing celery because it gets hot and the celery hasn’t held up. Par-cel sounds a little hardier. Also loved the photo of kale–I love that in green juice drinks and salads–I haven’t tried cooking it, but I will! Now, I want to see photos of you do-si-do-ing in the garden! 🙂

    1. Well, I’ll have to search for an outfit in green to make it worth a show! Shoot, there is no place to do-si-do in my garden. Very little lawn. I would probably breack my neck if I tried!
      It really is great. Germinate it under lights + don’t try seeding it out there. It did not seem bothered by the heat in my garden, but I did have it in a shady area. I love the fact it grows back. It really has more of that “celery” flavor one wants for foods. I find my organic celery is “blah” and not very fresh when they ship it across the USA to my midwest grocery store. I ‘ve tried growing celery from seed but it never gets large enough. I love this stuff for the flavor is in the leafy part + it is so pretty. They say you cook it for it is not used raw. I saute with it where I would use “stalk” celery. I also have lovage which is a great herb, but this stuff is so worth the effort to grow. You will love it! You will be do-si-doing in your garden,too!

      1. I have shady spots in the yard–that’s where I’ll put the celery 🙂 Clicking my Dorothy shoes for spring!!

  5. I have never heard of par-cel but I don’t see this is ever something I would grow. There are few things Roger won’t eat but apparently parsley and celery have the same sort of “poison” in! I have parsley for miles here and like it in my juices and salads and I do dry it for cooking without the man of the house realising he is eating it.

    1. lol..too funny. I do that to my husband. His is “kale” he only likes it raw. Well, to get the health benefits from kale you have to mildly cook it-I sneak it in all sorts of things he eats!:-)Parsley is so healthy for you-you go girl!!! You just don’ t have to tell them-lol=won’t hurt them what they don’t know:-) In fact, I read that parsley is one of the most “healthy” foods you can eat-yep, I read that:-) I was reading that this leaf celery is not eaten raw. It is used in dishes cooked. I have been using it in our garden soups-yum. So easy to use and it is pretty in the soup:-)

      1. lol…you are too funny! Check it out-let me know if you can’t find the seeds. I am on the hunt for a seed source for you all that have problems getting seeds from outside the country. I need to get over to your shop before dark. I went outside + worked today. Our daylight is disappearing since we moved our clocks back last weekend, so it is dark before dinner! I still have to read Narf’s post today since she always posts on Wednesday. I have to visit all my cyber neighbors that are in the WARM…today was the last day we will see 60 degrees….wind+ cold is coming in the night…brrrrrr…I will be spending more time at your blog this winter-how fun! I get to enjoy your warm weather, beautiful garden, creative projects, soap making + all the good stuff you do!!!

    1. Not if you germinate it inside under lights. I have tried seeding it in the garden and it does not germinate as well. That is what the “expert” gardeners claim. I have to admit they are right. I have had better luck with it germinating under lights ( I have some new seed coming) + I can mail you some:-) Once it gets established it takes off and is a lovely plant. I am thinking of putting it in my flower beds or in containers with annuals. It really is a lovely little plant. I REALLY like this cultivar- Par-cel. I found a red one from Ireland that I have never seen before, but I am staying with this one for now. I have not had it go to seed, so had to get more seed.
      I really like the fact it is organic and I don’t have to pay for organic celery. Half the time I purchase a bunch of celery from the grocery store, I never get to eating it all before it spoils. This is a cut and come again so that is no problem. It is very tasty..and I love to smell the fresh seeds! It is nice and green and fluffy in the ground still growing while a lot is browning up around it. They say it is cold tolerant so I will find out how much!

  6. Hi Robbie. I grew leaf celery this year for the first time and like you I was impressed. I have grown the the other celery too but it never got very big and I ended up wasting most of it. That is why I find the leaf celery great. You can just harvest a few leaves at a time. Like you I love to add it to stews and also soups. The packet said it was good to companion plant with brassicas as the strong smell was supposed to keep the cabbage butterflies away – but that wasn’t a success! There was still lots of cabbage white caterpillars. But I will still definitely grow again next year:)

    1. Yep, we are Leaf Celery Kindred spirits:-) I agree- this stuff is amazing + as you,I did grow some “stalk” celery and they did not get that big. I have decided to give up on stalk celery and stick with the leaf celery. I tried a leaf celery that was a different cultivar which was more like cilantro. I thought it was good but this Par-cel really has some good-dense greens that add substance to my dishes. The flavor is nice, too. I like the Par-cel cultivar so far. I found out there is a “red one”-have you tried that? I always have to try everything so I might give that a try with Par-cel next year. I have not had my Par-Cel go to seed. Did you? I wonder if it will come back if I keep it in the same area next year. They claim it is biennial. I have Golden Swiss Chard that comes back in a few place. I have some micro-climates where it returns.
      That is very interesting about the cabbage worms + Par-cel:-) Love that natural pest control!I will give it a try next year and report back to you. I was thinking of putting it in a bed with kale-we shall see!

      1. I have just checked my seeds and guess what – mine was ‘parcel’ too! Parcel Zwolsche Krui to be exact. Mine hasn’t gone to seed yet but it’s in its first year so wouldn’t expect it to till next year. I’ll certainly leave some to see if it flowers and seeds. Packet says it’s hardy biennial so unless we get hard winter it should come through for me. I checked the website where I got this one and she has a red stalked one – definitely worth a try too – she gives it good write up. Check out: http://www.seedaholic.com/celery-leaf-celery-red-stem.html

      2. thank you for info:-) keep me posted + I’ll keep an eye on mine, too. I was outside today and the par-cel is green + healthy just plugging along in our cold weather…I will watch mine and maybe we can figure out this great plant.
        I did purchase some from seedaholic( a few years ago-hard to find this plant in USA) but I got this one:
        http://www.seedaholic.com/celery-leaf-celery-chinese-celery.html
        It was nice smelling but more like a cilantro type of plant. Did not have the “abundance” or “density” of the par-cel when I cooked:-)
        But it was a nice plant-shoot , I’ve never met a plant I don’t like:-)

  7. I had no idea there was such a thing! My husband isn’t the biggest fan of celery but uses it a lot in his cooking for the flavor. This may be just the addition to the garden we’ve been looking for! Hopefully it doesn’t mind our winters, as I doubt it would survive our summers.

    1. You can find it under the name Leaf Celery this is a cultivar called Par-cel. It really is tasty and great for cooking. In your climate, I have no doubt it would be able to survive all winter. You would only have to plant it once! I would think:-) Just remember to germinate under lights for it does not do well sowing outdoors. It also does not take up much space + would work well in containers.
      A new addition for your new garden! It really handles the humid, hot summers in my yard:-)

    1. No it does not go to seed in one year. I started it under lights in early winter and it has not gone to seed. It is still standing in the garden after 30 degree weather. Will know more as the days get colder here soon how it holds up + if it makes it through our zone 5 winter.
      I got my seed from Hazzard seeds which sells to growers, or you can get some from Johnny seeds( Par-cel cultivar). But I grew out Hazzard this year + found that one the best I’ve grown. I am trying Johnny’s par-cel this spring:-) I tried some other types from Seedaholic which is from Ireland. My favorite is the par-cel cultivar.
      I have some celery in my garden but I love the frilly greens of Par-cel to cook with + the flavor is better than my celery! It is a winner!!!

      1. Thx for the info! We got something that looked a lot like your celery in our CSA share a few weeks back. Very dark green, recommended for stews and soups. Wonder what cultivar they grow? (They’re up in the Catskills so the micro-climate is different than ours but it might be interesting to know.) Enjoy your harvest!!!

  8. Oh, the kale looks so fresh. I have not had that vegetable in a long while and I miss it. They do not have it here in Vienna, and so one have to make do with other veggies.

    1. I just harvested some from the garden the other day, but I did not plant enough this season. It is the best plant for you can squeeze it in a container outside on your porch or in a small area right on a small lot in the city:-) It tolerates the extremes from hot to cold and it tastes best with a bit of frost on it before you bring it inside-mine has survived through freezing weather + Dwarf Blue will act as a perennial sometimes. I started growing it on our city lot a decade ago when I never could find it locally. It is that easy to grow:-) Check out the Scarlet Kale, dwarf blue + dinosaur kale. Those are my favorite to grow in our weather:-)

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