These jolly green stalks are from the hardy nibblers' plant that keeps on giving, explains Janice Marriott.
Celery is the ideal nibblers' plant. You can pick a few stalks from the outside of the plant when you need them. If the neighbours surprise you with a visit, rush out for young celery stalks. Halve them and fill them with cream cheese and herbs, and serve with a chardonnay.
The plant doesn't mind this treatment. It just grows some more stalks. You can also cut the whole plant off at ground level if you have a huge number of neighbours or if you want to make a month's supply of celery soup. The plant will sprout again with crunchy new stems. Celery is best eaten young and tender. If it's old and stringy it's good only for dental floss. Don't let the plant set seed. The taste will become bitter.
Plant the last of your celery plants now because celery needs a long growing season of 150 frost-free days. It likes alkaline soil, so sprinkle some lime around before putting the seedlings in their final position. While it grows give it a boost with blood and bone occasionally.
To make that delicate and delicious cream soup, sauté the celery in butter, add stock and simmer for ten minutes then strain. Add cream and reheat.