Garden Guide To Growing Kohlrabi The Easy Way

Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes) is a cool-season vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Kohlrabi is typically grown for its bulbous stalk, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Kohlrabi plants are easy to grow and can be planted in the spring or fall.

This member of the Mustard family is easy to grow when cared for properly. Gardeners that can grow other Brassica vegetables like cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, should have no problems growing kohlrabi.

Many vegetables have been cultivated for hundreds of years, like kohlrabi but are often overlooked by seasoned gardeners.

Other more popular garden vegetables have taken the place of these crops from years past. However, in recent years, long-time garden enthusiasts have been trying to bring back the popularity of these veggies so that they aren’t forgotten.

Kohlrabi is not only a flavorful vegetable; it is dual-purpose since the leafy green tops, and the “bulb” can be eaten.

There are wide varieties and colors to choose from – purple, white, and shades of green are only the beginning of the many choices available to gardeners.

Once the variety has been chosen, it’s only a matter of preparing a beautiful crop of this nutritious vegetable.

How to grow kohlrabi

Kohlrabi grows well in Zones 3 and warmer and can be planted in spring and fall. However, for warmer regions, kohlrabi may do better with fall planting.

Choose an area in the garden that is in full sun and is well-draining. The soil should be nutrient-rich and have an average pH of 6.5 to 6.8. Kohlrabi prefers cooler temperatures but can be grown successfully in warmer regions.

The plants grow quickly and are usually ready for harvesting within eight weeks. This short maturity period allows gardeners to plant directly into the garden rather than starting the seeds indoors. However, kohlrabi does transplant pretty well for those who prefer to start their seeds indoors.

Planting Kohlrabi

Seeds can be planted about three to four weeks before the last frost of the season. The seeds should be planted about a half inch deep and about three inches apart.

Once the plants are established, they can be thinned to about six inches apart and mulched to retain moisture and control weeds.

How to Care for Kohlrabi Plants

The plants need at least one inch of water per week. This is especially important for plants grown in warmer regions.

Hot regions may require more water than usual, but the plants should never be in standing water. The stems or “bulbs” become woody and overly pungent when the plants do not receive enough water or grow too large.

Kohlrabi is prone to the same diseases and garden pests as other vegetables of the Brassica family. However, aphids, flea beetles, and worms can be limited by using floating row covers. Each year, rotate the location of your crops to help prevent the spread of disease.

How to Harvest Kohlrabi

The kohlrabi leaves can be harvested when still young and tender. Then, they can be cooked and served like other greens, such as collards and mustard greens.

The stem or “bulb” should also be harvested while young to prevent the flavor from becoming too hot. Most prefer stems that are about one to two inches in diameter.

These can be dug from the ground to under the bulb a few inches below the soil.

Kohlrabi should be stored in the refrigerator once harvested. These strange-looking bulbs contain vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium.

They can be eaten raw or added to a variety of recipes. Gardeners looking for something different for their garden this year should consider Kohlrabi. Not only is it fun to grow, but the flavor is fantastic.

How long does it take kohlrabi to grow?

Kohlrabi is a vegetable often overlooked in the garden, but it is worth planting. Kohlrabi can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. It is a cool weather crop that can be planted in the early spring or late summer. Seedlings will appear within 4–7 days, and the row should be trimmed to 4-6 inches (10–15 cm) apart. Kohlrabi will be available to harvest 40–60 days after sowing, depending on the type.

Is kohlrabi easy to grow?

It is a good choice for gardeners new to vegetable gardening because it is easy to grow. Kohlrabi can be grown in containers or the garden. Four to six weeks before you want to transplant your plants outside, start them indoors.

What can you not plant next to kohlrabi?

When planting kohlrabi, you must consider what you will be planting next to it. If you are a beginner gardener, it is best to stick with the plants recommended for growing with kohlrabi.

Let’s talk about what not to grow with kohlrabi. This will help ensure that your kohlrabi plants grow healthy and produce plenty of vegetables for you to enjoy.

  • Fennel and beans are poor companion crops because they can impede kohlrabi’s growth.
  • Strawberry plants draw aphids.
  • Pumpkin vines have enormous leaves that will shade kohlrabi too much.
  • Since they are all Brassica family members and share the same pests, it is advisable to plant Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, and other Brassicas apart from kohlrabi. However, this may result in a pest invasion that obliterates your crop and spreads disease throughout the crops.
Growing kohlrabi on a field.

How long does it take kohlrabi to bulb?

3–4 weeks before the last anticipated spring frost date, plant kohlrabi seeds in your garden. Temperatures between 40°F and 75°F (4.4°C and 23.9°C) are ideal for kohlrabi growth. It takes kohlrabi 45 to 60 days to bulb. Sow kohlrabi in the late summer for winter harvest in areas with warm winters.

Does kohlrabi come back every year?

Kohlrabi will grow back every year, but the size and flavor of the kohlrabi may vary depending on the season it is planted. If you leave the bottom of the stem in the ground after harvesting kohlrabi, the plant will come back. Technically speaking, it is a biennial, though. Therefore, it won’t grow another edible stem the following year; instead, it will blossom and set seed the following year.

Why isn’t my kohlrabi forming a bulb?

While kohlrabi is an excellent beginner vegetable to grow, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your kohlrabi forms a bulb. If kohlrabi plants are stressed, they won’t bulb.  Plant seedlings at least 10 inches apart because plant spacing is the biggest offender. The production of kohlrabi bulbs can be impacted by a variety of environmental factors, including heat and drought, insufficient day length, deficient soil, weeds, and specific pests.

Bunch of kohlrabies without leaves.

Should I remove kohlrabi leaves?

When starting with kohlrabi, it can be challenging to know whether or not to remove the leaves. If you are a beginner, when you harvest kohlrabi greens, take no more than one-third of the leaves. Leave enough leaves for the veggie to get solar energy if you intend to harvest the bulbs. Cut the leaves off to avoid harming the bulb rather than removing them.

What kind of fertilizer does kohlrabi need?

When growing kohlrabi, it is essential to use the correct fertilizer. An excellent all-purpose fertilizer can be used, but it is best to use a fertilizer specifically for vegetables. Kohlrabi needs plenty of nitrogen, so a high-nitrogen fertilizer is ideal, like Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food; you can read more here. Fertilize kohlrabi every two weeks when it grows and then again once it starts to flower. 

Can I harvest kohlrabi leaves?

Kohlrabi is an excellent vegetable for beginners because it is easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance. Kohlrabi leaves are always available for harvest. Use your fingers to remove them or a pair of precise pruning shears to cut them. They will be more tasty and tender when they are young. Just be sure to leave some leaves on the plant so it can continue growing.

Why is my kohlrabi not forming bulbs?

One of the most common problems with growing kohlrabi is not forming a bulb. There are several reasons why this may occur, but some of the most common causes include: planting the seeds too deep, planting the seeds in too heavy of soil, planting them too close together, lacking water, and temperature extremes.

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