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(Brassica oleracea)

Requires six hours or more of strong, direct sun per day. Full Sun
Requires six hours or more
of strong, direct sun per day.
Requires two to six hours of direct sun per day. Part Shade
Requires two to six hours
of direct sun per day.


KOHLRABI (Brassica oleracea) It must be admitted that nobody seems to know where the Kohlrabi comes from and how it got to be the way it is today. It has been called "the mongrel of the vegetable kingdom" because it is like a "turnip growing on a cabbage root.

Though kohlrabi grows equally well in hot or cold weather, for best results it should be grown in the cool days of spring or fall. The species is naturally a cool-weather plant which matures rapidly within 12 weeks. It will grow well at high altitudes, provided it has a growing period of at least 80 days.

Green manure previously turned under gives good results. Compost, barnyard manures and old mulches are also very satisfactory.

Make sure the soil is not too acid. Lime, in the form of fine-ground limestone, should be added when the pH falls below 5.5.

Planting Kohlrabi

Because kohlrabi is a very hardy and fast-growing vegetable, three sowings can be made in temperate zones—in April, toward the end of May and in early July. Plants can also be started in the house or cold frame and later transplanted, but better results will be obtained if the seeds are sown directly into the garden.

moonGROW Advice
For a robust and flavorable harvest, Kohlrabi should be planted when the moon is in the 3rd Quarter (i.e. waxing) and in one of the following Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Libra

Planting the seed

Make a shallow furrow and drop about ten seeds to one foot of row, or about 1/8 ounce of seed to 100 feet. Cover the seed with almost an inch of soil. Firm with your foot and mark the row, which should be 15 to 18 inches apart from its neighbor.

Thinning out the plants

When thinned, the plants should stand about four inches apart. The culls can be transplanted in another section of the garden, thus extending your harvest season. The shock of transplanting retards the growth process and the thinned-out plants come to maturity later than the original stand of kohlrabi.

Rapid growth is a must.

Slow-growing plants are tough and the flesh is strong. Kohlrabi should grow in soil that is always moderately moist. Shallow cultivation is also important because the young roots spread out just under the soil surface. Until the plants are tall enough for mulching, just scrape between the rows with a sharp hoe.

Booster feeding

If you want to give the plants a booster feeding, side-dress them with an organic fertilizer after they have been thinned. Loosen the soil between the plants and in the rows before putting on a thick mulch, making sure to keep the cultivation shallow.

Harvesting Kohlrabi

Harvest the plants while they are young and tender, about 80 days after sowing.

Kohlrabi tastes best when the bulb is small and tender. A moist soil that is rich in humus and weed-free will encourage rapid growth of kohlrabi and make for tender, mild-flavored stems.

Kitchen Tip:
Harvest kohlrabi bulbs when they reach 2-3" in diameter. Allowing further growth will produce tough and woody vegetables. Use young tender leaves as you would cabbage or kale.

If they're growing faster than you can use them, harvest the bulbs and store them in a cool basement. Or bury them deep in the soil and cover them with straw or hay. They will keep crisp and fresh well into the winter.

It's a good practice to keep the ground working and improving after you have gathered kohlrabi. Plant snap beans and turn them under when they begin to form pods. They will release plenty of nitrogen right into the soil as they decay.

In this way you will fertilize your garden and get it ready for the following year with very little extra effort.

Kohlrabi preparation

Kohlrabi should always be cooked in its skin to preserve flavor. The sliced root may be simmered and the bulb steamed or boiled for winter meals. Kohlrabi can also be eaten raw or sliced into midsummer salads.


Early White Vienna is a good variety for freezing. Early Purple Vienna is a popular type known for its tenderness.

Spring Gardening
Copyright© 2016 Gene DeFazzio
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