Dirt on Gardening

If you’re going to take the time to plant a fall garden, and you’re going to plant kale, you might as well plant the gongylodes group of Brassica oleracea—kholrabi.

It’s hard to believe that kale and kohlrabi are from the same family. Kale provides tasty leaves to eat, and kohlrabi provides an above-ground growing bulb to eat.

Similar to kale, kohlrabi prefers growing in cool weather. Warm weather will make kohlrabi woody and bitter tasting. The bulbs will split prior to harvest.

Seeds should be sown one inch apart, one-quarter to one-half inch deep in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Upon germination, plants should be thinned to four inches.

Soil should have a neutral pH but be rich in organic matter. Adequate moisture is also necessary.

Row covers will help prevent cabbage worms, but pests are not a major problem. Kohlrabi is ready for harvest about 60 days after planting.

As mentioned earlier, the edible part of kohlrabi is actually a bulb that grows above the ground. Depending upon the variety, kohlrabi has red or white bulbs.

Kohlrabi bulbs should be harvested when they are two to three inches in diameter. For best flavor, the stem should be cut off about one inch below the leaves.

Bulbs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Kohlrabi can be eaten fresh or lightly cooked. The flesh of kohlrabi is similar to an apple with its firm, crisp texture.

“Kolibri” is a good variety of purple kohlrabi. The bulbs have a dark purple skin and a fiberless white flesh. Kolibri matures in about 45 days.

“Eder” is an early white that matures in about 38 days. “Midseason” is another white kohlrabi that has been characterized to have a fruity taste.

Kohlrabi and kale can be started indoors which will lead to an earlier harvest for either plant.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds has several varieties of kohlrabi and kale available at www.johnnyseeds.com.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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