Written by Mike the Gardener
I have purple Kohlrabi growing in my fall garden right now and I will be the first to admit that it is simply a vegetable that most people have never heard about. In fact, I am yet to have a neighbor, even those that do garden, come over and know what it is. This reason alone gave me the inspiration to grow them a few years ago, and now they are a fall garden staple.
What is Kohlrabi?
Kohlrabi, also referred to by some as a German turnip or turnip cabbage, is an annual vegetable that is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Kohlrabi has a crisp texture and a turnip-like flavor that is both mild and sweet. Just like its relative, cabbage, kohlrabi is a great addition to stews, casseroles as well as raw in relish.
Kohlrabi in the Fall
Kohlrabi makes for a great fall vegetable garden plant because of its mild weather tolerance and quick days to maturity. If you were to plant some kohlrabi today, you will be consuming it in less than 65 days, giving you plenty of time to plant now before extreme frost sets in.
Kohlrabi is an excellent choice for container gardening. Just be sure to select a large enough container (at least 16” in diameter and 16” deep) and fill that container with a good potting soil mix that contains lots of nutrient rich compost.
I like to direct sow my kohlrabi into my garden bed. If you do the same, just make sure you do not plant it in an area where a member of the same family was planted in the spring or summer garden. That will make your kohlrabi more susceptible to disease and pest damage. You will also want to mix in plenty of compost before you plant your kohlrabi so you can add nutrients back into your soil.
Regardless of whether you are direct sowing your seeds into a garden bed or growing kohlrabi in containers, you will want to choose a location that receives a minimum of 5 hours of sunlight. Make sure you keep the soil moist at all times but not saturated, and feed your kohlrabi every other week with fish emulsion for best results. Space your kohlrabi plants out at least eighteen inches. Most varieties of kohlrabi can get very large. The more space that you give them, the better chance they will have to grow.
Kohlrabi is a good source of calcium and iron as well as vitamins:
A, B1, B2, Niacin and C.
On a final note, the part of the kohlrabi plant that is edible is the large bulb portion that grows above ground at the base of the stem. The plant will start off growing straight up, then the bulb will form and the edible portion will grow to maturity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike is a member of the Garden Writers Association and you can listen to him each week on the Vegetable Gardening Show where he interviews gardening industry experts.