You might mistake kohlrabi at the grocery store for a root vegetable, but its round bulb actually grows above ground. This bulb can be eaten raw or cooked, but the whole plant is edible, including the kohlrabi greens, which look a bit like kale leaves. When tender and young, kohlrabi leaves make an excellent substitute for spinach.
This member of the cabbage family grows bulbs that are greenish white or a beautiful shade of purple.
Coming from the cabbage family, you know this veggie is going to be full of nutrients. It’s high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including folate, calcium, and magnesium. It’s also a great source of fiber.
Kohlrabi hasn’t yet taken off here like it has in Europe and Asia, but it’s delicious and super easy to grow. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to grow your own and experience this sweet and crunchy veggie for yourself!
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My Favorite Source for Kohlrabi Seeds
This seed pack from Renee’s Garden comes with both purple and green kohlrabi, both fast-growing hybrids that form crispy bulbs with thin skins and sweet, crunchy flesh.
When to Plant Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi, like many of its cousins in the cabbage family, grows best during the Cool Season.
To give kohlrabi the time it needs to grow outdoors while the temps are nice and cool, I recommend starting seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before setting seedlings outside. Start seeds in January or February for a spring harvest, or from September through December for a fall/winter harvest.
You can also direct sow seeds outdoors during those months, but be prepared to protect kohlrabi seedlings with shade cloth on warm days in September/October.
How to Grow Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi thrives in cooler weather and needs at least 6 hours of sun to form its bulb. This plant doesn’t mind a bit of frost, but it’s best to protect it when we experience extreme temps (28 degrees and below). Check out our post on protecting your plants from Texas cold snaps to learn more.
I recommend growing kohlrabi in a raised garden bed. Before you sow kohlrabi seeds or transplant a seedling, add a 2- to 3-inch layer of fresh compost to the planting area. Kohlrabi needs a good soil rich in nutrients that can hold some moisture. Add some all purpose fertilizer to the planting hole to give this veggie a great start.
Plant seeds ¼ to ¾ inch deep. Give each plant at least 9 to 12 inches of room to grow.
If you’d like a continual harvest of kohlrabi, plant more seeds or seedlings every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season.
Keep the soil moist while you’ve got kohlrabi growing. If it dries out, the bulb of this vegetable can become too woody. Our goal instead is a crunchy inside with a soft exterior, which comes from sufficient water.
How to Harvest Kohlrabi
Harvest kohlrabi when the bulb is 1 to 3 inches in diameter. If you wait and let the bulb grow any larger than that, it will become too tough and old. The bulb is typically ready between 50 to 70 days from planting.
It’s best to harvest during cooler weather to avoid the bulb becoming woody. To harvest kohlrabi, cut the base of the bulb with a sharp knife or a hori hori.
How to Store Kohlrabi
Like cabbage, kohlrabi stores well in the fridge. Remove the leaves before storing since they won’t remain fresh as long as the bulb and can pull moisture away (toss those leaves in a salad!). Wash the bulb thoroughly. It will stay at peak flavor and crispness for 1 to 2 weeks.
How to Enjoy Kohlrabi
You can peel kohlrabi and slice the bulb thinny for a healthy and filling snack. You can slice it and use it in place of cabbage in a coleslaw or make this delicious kohlrabi salad recipe, perfect for fall.
You can also cook kohlrabi and use it in the place of cabbage or kale. I love kohlrabi roasted.
The kohlrabi leaves are excellent substitutes for spinach or Swiss chard, and they’re typically only something you get to enjoy fresh if you grow your own vegetables.
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