Kohlrabi comes from the cabbage family and has a flowering plant. “Kohl” means cabbage, and “Rube” means turnip. The name Kohlrabi is derived from two German words, Kohl (cabbage) and Rube (turnip). While kohl means cabbage, rube means turnip. So the name literally means “cabbage turnip” in German! The topic for today is kohlrabi and how to grow it in your garden.
Kohlrabi originated from northwestern Europe. However, today this odd-looking plant is found worldwide. This plant is grown as a food and is high in vitamins C and B. Many of the minerals found in this food are excellent for human health, especially copper, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. This means that kohlrabi is a low-calorie food.
Kohlrabi that is fresh and young tastes sweet and has a juicy, crispy texture. It tastes like a mix of cabbage and radish. You can eat the bulb, stalks, and leaves of the plant, but the skin is tough and is usually removed. You can eat it raw or use it in salads, soups, or meaty dishes.
This unusual vegetable may not look like anything else we typically eat, but that’s part of its appeal. This plant is a great addition to your garden beds and it is also edible. This text provides tips on growing kohlrabi in the garden.
All About Kohlrabi
The name of the vegetable we know as kohlrabi is actually Brassica oleracea. It is part of the Gongylodes group. This vegetable goes by many names, the most common of which is kohlrabi. Other names for it include su hào in northern Japan and kedluben in the Czech Republic. Although the names are strange, the plant is even more bizarre!
If you’re wondering what a kohlrabi looks like, you’ve come to the right place. Kohlrabi has a large, round bulb with stems coming out of it. The height of these stems can vary from 6 to 18 inches depending on the type. Each stem has huge, cabbage-like leaves with long petioles and wavy edges. The plant also produces flowers that range in color from white to yellow. The flowers are in bloom and grouped together on top of the stalks.
This plant, which looks like it came from outer space, is gathered to be eaten. Kohlrabi is an edible root vegetable, most commonly used in cooking. Although the vegetable is enjoyed globally, the majority of production takes place in Russia, China, India, and Korea.
There are several varieties of kohlrabi to choose from if you want to add it to your vegetable garden, including White Vienna, Grand Duke, Gigante or Superschmelz, Purple Kohlrabi, and White Danube. There are many different kohlrabi varieties that vary slightly in exterior color, but they all have white flesh on the inside.
Where to grow:
Kohlrabi will do best in a sunny spot. Shelter is also beneficial. Choose soil that doesn’t become waterlogged or dries out too quickly.
When to grow:
The best time to sow white, green, and purple varieties is from March to the end of July. It’s possible to sow purple varieties of the plant from July to the end of August. It is beneficial to make successive sowings of all varieties of vegetables so that you can have a continual harvest of young and tender vegetables.
Here are some helpful tips! If you want to grow kohlrabi the best way, here are some tips that may help you! The first step is planning the best conditions for the plant to thrive. This is true for any plant, it needs to be in the right location and planted at the right time to grow well.
Kohlrabi plants do well in cool weather conditions. The ideal time to plant kohlrabi seeds is 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost is predicted to occur. If you’re planning on starting them indoors, you should plant them even earlier. These vegetables take 45 to 60 days to mature. If you live in a warm climate, you can sow kohlrabi seeds in late summer or early fall and have a crop to harvest in the cool weather of autumn. In warm locations like southern California, kohlrabi can be grown all winter long!
You can start your seeds by planting them directly into the ground, or you can start them indoors and then transplant them outside. You should transplant live kohlrabi plants into your garden a little bit before the last frost date. To prepare them, gradually acclimate them to the outdoor temperature. You will have the best success if your seedlings are four to six weeks old when you transplant them.
Select a full-sun location for your kohlrabi. If you’re considering growing kohlrabi in a container, be aware that you may need to water and fertilize it more often than if it were in the ground. It is recommended that you grow your own in raised beds with fertile, well-draining soil.
The traditional spacing for kohlrabi is 9-12 inches apart in rows that are also spaced 9-12 inches apart. Although square-foot gardeners typically use less space per plant, some have been known to use as little as nine square feet per plant. You can plant more if the individual plants are 3 inches apart.
Now that we’ve discussed how to space kohlrabi, planting is essential to cover as well. To sow kohlrabi seeds, plant them ¼” deep and barely cover them with soil. Cut off any extra sprouts once they have germinated so that they are the desired distance apart.
Kohlrabi transplants can be grown similarly, but once they are 4-6 weeks old, they can be put in the garden once they have been hardened off. When you are transplanting your plant, make sure to plant it at the same depth that it was in its pot. The bulbous base of the plant should not be allowed to be buried under an inch of soil, as these plants’ bulbs actually form above ground, with only the cabbage-like roots below.
Sowing Kohl Rabi
Recommended Varieties: Azur Star. I recommend growing Kohl Rabi in modular trays. The plants will establish better and it will be easier than growing in a seed bed. Why?
- Excellent crop establishment
- Uniform plant development
- Quick transplanting with minimum root disturbance
- Gives the plant a head start against weather and garden pests and diseases.
Sowing in Modular trays
Choose a seed compost that has a finer texture and lower nutrients than your standard multipurpose compost. We use a seed module tray in which each section is approximately 2 inches deep. Here’s what you do:
- Fill the seed tray with compost and brush off any excess. When filling the tray rub the compost through your hands to break up any lumps. Give the tray a sharp bang on your table to settle.
- With your fingers make small depressions in each cell about a fingernail or 2 cm deep.
- Sow 1 or 2 seeds per module. If two seeds germinate you’ll need to pinch out the weaker seedling.
- Cover the seeds with another layer of compost then scrape across the top of the tray with a stick to remove excess.
- Gently water your seeds. A good tip is to use a plastic bottle with small holes punched in the cap. This is less likely to wash the seed around than the heavy spray from a watering can.
- Place your trays in your greenhouse, polytunnel, cold frame, or windowsill to germinate. They should be ready to plant out in about 4 weeks. For continuity sow small amounts in mid-April. mid-May, early and late June.
Hardening Off Kohl Rabi Seedlings
Before planting your houseplant outside, acclimate it to the temperature and conditions by keeping it outdoors for a week to 10 days. A cloche or mini greenhouse is the best way to grow plants. The cloche can be removed from the plants on days when it is not going to frost and replaced at night. By the end of the week, the cloche should be off during the day and night. If the weather is mild, you can move the plants outside for longer periods each day without using the cloche. You will need to leave your seeds in an unheated room for a day or two before moving them outside to the cloche.
Transplanting Kohl Rabi
Plants should be spaced 6 inches apart, with rows 1 foot apart.
Make a hole in the ground with a dibber or a piece of an old broom handle. Push the seedling plug into the hole and gently press down around the roots. Water the area thoroughly.
Now that we’ve gone over planting, you’re probably wondering how to grow kohlrabi for the best results. We can discuss things like your garden soil and other important factors for successful plant growth.
Sun and Temperature
These plants require full sun… the more, the better. Make sure to pick a spot in your garden that gets at least six hours of full sun every day. The best temperature range for growing Kohlrabi is 40°F to 75°F (4.4°C to 23.9°C).
The plant doesn’t do well in warm conditions because the heat makes the bulb turn woody. The ideal temperature for harvesting this crop is 75°F (23.9°C). If the temperature is any higher the crop will lose flavor. Kohlrabi can be grown in different climates depending on the USDA growing zone.
Watering and Humidity
When considering how to grow kohlrabi, remember to give these plants enough water to supply the bulbs, stems, and leaves. It’s important to keep the soil moist at all times by adding more water when the soil starts to dry out. A soaker hose is a good choice for watering kohlrabi plants.
If it rains, you don’t need to water your plants as they will get enough water from the rain.
To grow healthy Kohlrabi, fertile and well-drained soil is needed to produce healthy stems, leaves, and bulbous bases. Adding organic matter to the soil as mulch will help it to hold onto water and nutrients better. well-worked, loose soil is the best for your kohlrabies to really show their stuff!
The optimal pH level for kohlrabi growth falls between 6.0 and 6.8 on the pH scale.
Fertilizing kohlrabi can be difficult as they consume a lot of food. To get rich and fertile soil, start off with manure from a cow that has been fed well and been allowed to roam. Side-dress this soil every few weeks. Or, start with the rich soil, but go for regular fertilization using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. A fertilizer with a 10-5-5 ratio should be enough, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how often to apply it.
When growing kohlrabi in containers, it is important to fertilize regularly as the soil will be drained of nutrients regularly. Apply your fertilizer in a ring around the plant so that it does not make contact with the bulbous stem base. This is also true for in-ground fertilization, but there is less of a chance that the water will wash the fertilizer back against the plant in a normal bed setting.
An alternative to dry fertilizers is liquid ones, but only if your soil can keep the nutrients that are dissolved in them. If you have a lot of organic matter in your soil, you can just use liquid fertilizer periodically.
Except when harvesting, kohlrabi does not need to be pruned.
Kohlrabi is typically propagated through seeds only. Other methods of propagation do not result in good, healthy plants. Choose to grow kohlrabi from seeds from a reliable supplier.
Harvesting and Storing
Kohlrabi can be eaten whole, including the green leaves, long stems, and bulbous base. Harvesting kohlrabi plants for future meals can be just as much fun as growing them.
Kohl Rabi is usually harvested at tennis ball size. If you ask most gardeners, they’ll tell you that the plant will get tough and woody if it gets any bigger. From my experience, as long as you keep the plant well watered and fed, larger Kohl Rabi will be just as tender as small ones. This is not to say that large plants will taste like your kitchen table, but rather that they will not taste as good as smaller plants.
Remove the stems and roots from the ground, or cut them off just below the stem with a sharp knife. If you want to store kohlrabi for several weeks, remove the leaf stems and place, unwashed, in sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator.
The leaves are also edible. Arugula can be eaten in a similar way to spinach, either by adding it to salads or boiling it.
For optimal storage, kohlrabi should be kept in a cool, humid environment. The ideal conditions for this would be 95% relative humidity at a temperature of 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0-4 degrees Celsius. A good way to keep kohlrabi fresh is to put the stems and base in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
The leaves can either be left on the stems or removed, but the stems will last longer if the leaves are removed. Place your leaves on a long sheet of paper towel, then carefully roll them up into a tube. Put the tube of leaves into a separate plastic bag. Make sure to use your leaves within a few days for the best results.
Stems and bases can be frozen for long-term storage. Washing your kohlrabi and removing the stems from the base will allow you to do this. Peel the tough outer layer of skin off. You can cut your kohlrabi into ½” segments if you want, or you can freeze it whole. To blanch something in boiling water is to quickly cook it before transferring it to cold water to stop the cooking process. You should drain the food, pat it dry, and lay it on a baking sheet. Freezing it will make it solid, and then you can transfer it into a freezer storage bag.