If you’ve never grown celery, this is the year you’re going to start. It would never have occurred to me to plant celery in my garden, but someone gave me a few starts, so what choice did I have? I happened to have a good spot for them: I put them near the kitchen door, where they get rich, moist soil and about a half day of shade. The celery thrived, and I found out that I’d been crazy not grow it before. I used it in everything: soups, salads, all kinds of dishes that could be improved by celery if only I had some on hand. And of course, I used it in drinks.
The celery to grow is ‘Redventure,’ a cross between an heirloom strain called ‘Giant Red’ and a popular commercial variety called ‘Ventura.’ Crossing those two resulted in a celery with slender red stems about the diameter of a pencil—perfect for swizzle sticks. And it’s got a rich, strong celery flavor that’s bold enough for cocktails.
You can easily start it from seed, but I’d spring for a six-pack of it so you can start using it right away. Just give it rich soil, plan on watering it about once a week when it’s not raining, and give it some shade. ‘Redventure’ will continually produce new stalks all season long, but in the second year it will want to push up a central stalk and set seed. You can try cutting the stalk down, but the plant will win in the end and put all its energy into reproducing.
Use the slender stalks as a garnish in a Bloody Mary, or muddle them with vodka in any kind of spicy, savory cocktail.