Looking to try something new in your vegetable garden this year? This delectable vegetable’s name is Kohlrabi (German Turnip). It is a cool season crop so now is the time to plant it in the garden.
Kohlrabi is a stem plant that resembles a turnip, which is a root crop. Kohlrabi is an edible bulb that is easily grown in the spring and fall gardens. It has a similar taste and texture of a cabbage heart, but sweeter and milder. It can be eaten raw or cooked. I prefer the cooked method myself. My wife prepares it in a tasty white cream sauce.
Kohlrabi can be direct seeded or grown as a transplant. I have tried both methods and prefer transplants in the spring since it gives you a jump on the season. Space your transplants 2-5” apart, or more for larger varieties. For a fall crop direct seed Kohlrabi so it has time to germinate and mature before a frost. Place your seeds ¼-1/2” deep and then thin to 2-5” apart.
My personal favorite variety is “Early White Vienna”. This variety is normally ready to harvest in 55 days. You should harvest Kohlrabi early, around 2″across, to savor its sweet, water chestnut flavor. Do not let the Kohlrabi get any larger than 5cm, because it tends to get woody.
Since Kohlrabi is a cultivator of the cabbage family it is susceptible to cabbage worms and cabbage loopers. To protect your plants from the cabbage white butterfly, who lays eggs on the undersides of the Kohlrabi, cover them with row covers. If you do encounter cabbage loopers you can easily hand pick them or you could use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05556.html to get rid of them. There are other insect problems associated with Kohlrabi but not enough to deter you from growing this delicious vegetable.
If you want more ideas for growing more cool season crops check out http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/720.pdf.
Contributed by Rich Young, Colorado Master Gardener.