Add the easy-to-grow kohlrabi to your garden
I first enjoyed kohlrabi at a late-fall dinner party, where it was served as a fresh vegetable on the dip tray. The following year I grew my own and have enjoyed fresh kohlrabi ever since.
When I was running a nursery, we didn’t sell much kohlrabi seed, and it may be that many gardeners aren’t familiar with it, so let me introduce you to an easy-to-grow garden favourite that’s loaded with vitamin C, calcium and iron.
Pappelina Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family. When harvested it looks like a root vegetable, but it produces its short stem, about the size and shape of a tennis ball, above ground. Kohlrabi is best started from seed sown directly in the soil, as it does not like to be transplanted.
Sow seed from early April through July; late-summer plantings will provide fall and winter harvest. Space seeds 10 cm (4 in.) apart in rows that are no closer than 30 cm (12 in.). Kohlrabi is fairly drought tolerant so is suitable for gardens where water is limited.
Days to maturity range from 50 to 70. Harvest when the stalk is larger than a golf ball and no bigger than a tennis ball. Peel the vegetable and enjoy it fresh with dip, sliced and stir-fried, boiled like carrots or grated into vegetable lasagne.
Different Types of Kohlrabi
‘Kolibri’: Ready in 55 days, this has purple stems and a crisp white interior.
‘Kongo’: Ready in 50 days, with smooth green skin and a white interior, this is tender and sweet when harvested at 7.5 cm (3 in.) in diameter.
‘Superschmeltz’: An open-pollinated seed, this one matures later than most at 70 days. It remains tender even when it’s 30 cm (12 in.) across and weighs 2.5 kg (5 lb.)! Left to develop, it can easily double that size. Sow these seeds at least 60 cm (2 ft.) apart. It can tolerate winter harvest and drought and has green skin with a white interior.
The new Boost Collection by Burpee offers gardeners a super serving of healthful antioxidants. Each of the six vegetables in the set was hand-selected for nutrient content. Available as plants, the ‘Cherry Punch’, ‘Power Pops’ and ‘Solar Power’ hybrid tomatoes, ‘Sweet Heat’ hybrid pepper, ‘Gold Standard’ hybrid cucumber and ‘Healing Hands’ lettuce salad mix are bursting with garden-to-table goodness.
In B.C., the local grower of Burpee’s Boost veggies is Little Mountain Greenhouses Garden Centre at 47558 Yale Road in Chilliwack. Some of its unique edible offerings are not available by seed, so it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area.