Kohlrabi, from the brassica family, classified as Brassica oleracea, was first grown in Europe around 1500 and was imported into America 300 years later. Kohlrabi is often misclassified as a root vegetable as it has a Turnip-like appearance with leaves standing out like spokes from the edible bulb portion which is a rounded, enlarged stem section growing just above the soil line. Other members of the Brassica family include Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Collard Greens and Kale.
Plant Kohlrabi in the cool weather to enjoy its juicy-crisp texture, mild sweet taste and dramatic out of this world appearance. Kohlrabi is highly nutritious and is full of nutrients and minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins, such as C, B-complex, A and K. Kohlrabi is also high in dietary fiber and antioxidant compounds such as phytochemicals and various carotenes.
Kohlrabi is impossible to find at the market, it tastes like a cross between a Radish and a Cucumber with a dense texture and a great crunch. We offer both bright purple Kolibri and pale green Korist Kohlrabi of which both have a crunchy, sweet white interior just like an apple.
Grow Your Own Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi prefers cool weather and moderately fertile evenly moist soil. If your soil is too acidic or too alkaline, amend it to 6.5 to 6.8 pH as far ahead of time as possible. Amend soil with compost, well-rotted manure and/or slow-release organic fertilizer. Kohlrabi can be started indoors under lights, in a greenhouse or direct-sow as soon as the soil in your garden can be worked in the spring. Space seed every 1" to 2". It is best to grow as a fall crop up to four weeks before the first fall frost.
To grow as transplants, sow the seed in six-packs filled with moist seed starting mix about nine weeks before your spring Frost-Free Date. Once the seeds have sprouted, give them 12 to 15 hours of bright light each day, consistent moisture and good ventilation. (Plants grown on a windowsill become leggy and flop over as they stretch for the light: normal daylight length and intensity is insufficient no matter how bright the spot.) Don't let the seedlings become thirsty or hungry. Once the seedlings have their first true leaves, feed them once a week with a diluted liquid fertilizer. When there are four true leaves, transplant the strongest seedlings into 4" individual pots. Before transplanting your seedlings into the garden, harden them off by putting them outdoors in a sheltered location for a few hours each day and bringing them indoors at night. Do this for a week to 10 days, gradually lengthening the time outdoors. This will help them to avoid transplant shock and to thrive.
To find the Frost-Free Date for your garden, GO HERE and use the nifty chart provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Select your State from the pull down menu, this will generate a PDF file with a list of NOAA data collection sites in your State. In the left column, choose the location nearest or most similar to where you live. Then read across. Use the middle threshold number (32F) and right next to it, in the Spring column, will be the 50% probability date. This is your all-important average Frost-Free Date.
Thin or transplant seedlings to 6" apart in each row. Water well after planting. Adding mulch around the plants, keeps the soil moist, roots cool and helps, to reduce the need for heavy weeding. Harvest Kohlrabi on the small side (under 4" in diameter) for the best taste and crunch, and use the leaves in soups or as a steamed side dish. Kohlrabi only takes about 50 days and can be grown successively through your growing season by starting more plants every 10 to 14 days.
Kohlrabi in the Kitchen
We often hear, "Sure, Kohlrabi is cute! What do I do with it?" Try it boiled with potatoes in our Creamy Kohlrabi. We love it the old-fashioned way: steamed lightly, then baked in a cheesy-cream sauce (try Edam or Gouda for a change) until piping hot. It is excellent comfort food to store away in the freezer for the winter. As well as match sticked and served with any type of dip as a crudité.