PRIMGHAR, Iowa — Kohlrabi is a vegetable that is often overlooked at the farmers market or store unless you grew up eating and growing it at home. It is a crisp, sweet vegetable that is in the cabbage family. Even though we are in the heart of harvesting kohlrabi, you can start planting new seeds for a fall crop, too!
Kohlrabi is a cole crop. Cole crop is the general term used to describe broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. They perform best in full sun and well-drained soils with a pH of 6-7. Crop rotation is incredibly important. To reduce disease problems, no cole crop member should be planted in the same garden space more than once every four years. You can direct sow kohlrabi in both early-spring, around April, for a summer harvest, or you can direct sow in mid-summer, around July, for a fall harvest. If you choose not to plant directly by seed, you can start seeds indoors and transfer outside.
The stem of kohlrabi swells during its growing period to the size of a baseball or softball. The appearance is similar to a turnip or beet. The name kohlrabi actually comes from the German words for cabbage and turnip. Like many other vegetables there are multiple varieties of kohlrabi. Some common varieties are: Early Purple Vienna (early; reddish purple with white flesh), Kolibri (deep purple with white flesh), Quickstar (pale green with white flesh), and Winner (pale green with white flesh). When harvesting kohlrabi, it is important to have the stem stay between 3-4 inches in diameter. Anything larger will result in a woody and tough stem. Usually it takes 50-60 days for kohlrabi to reach its maturity.
Kohlrabi can be consumed in many different ways. The outside of the kohlrabi needs to be peeled leaving the white flesh. Our favorite way to eat it in the office is raw with a little salt added to it. However, there are many different recipes online on how to roast it in the oven or even make a coleslaw with it. You can visit our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website to find out more about storing and preparing your kohlrabi at home (https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Produce-Basics-Kohlrabi.pdf).
— Katelyn Brinkerhoff, Horticulture Educator, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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