Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea) is a cross between the turnip and cabbage but has a sharp flavor that some compare to the radish and others say they taste more like broccoli.
This member of the Mustard family is easy to grow when cared for properly. In fact, for gardeners that can grow other Brassica vegetables like cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, they should have no problems growing kohlrabi.
There are many vegetables that 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. 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 both the leafy green tops and the “bulb” can be eaten.
There are many 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 for a beautiful crop of this nutritious vegetable.
How to grow kohlrabi
Kohlrabi grows well in Zones 3 and warmer and can be planted in both spring and fall. 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 8 weeks. This short maturity period allows gardeners to plant directly into the garden rather than having to start the seeds indoors. However, kohlrabi does transplant fairly well for those who prefer to start their seeds indoors.
Seeds can be planted about three to four weeks prior to the last frost of the season. The seeds should be planted about a half inch deep and spaced 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 normal but the plants should never set in standing water. The stems or “bulbs” are known to 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. Aphids, flea beetles, and worms can be limited by the use of 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. They can be cooked and served like most 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 going under the bulb a few inches just below the soil.
Kohlrabi should be stored in the refrigerator once harvested. These strange-looking bulbs are packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium.
They can be eaten raw or added to a variety of recipes. Gardeners looking for something a bit different for their garden this year should consider Kohlrabi. Not only is it fun to grow but the flavor is amazing.