Kohlrabi is a vegetable that is far better known in Germany and other European countries but it growing in popularity now. It is a brassica which has a alien-like appearance and can be used both raw and cooked.

Growing kohlrabi:

Kohlrabi is extremely easy to grow and is more tolerant of hot weather than the turnip. You can find both purple and green varieties. Kohlrabi prefer a sunny spot in soil that is moisture retentive and yet free draining. Like many vegetables it will prefer a neutral or slightly alkaline soil.

Kohlrabi can be grown inside and then planted out or sown direct between March and August. Seedings should be planted, or thinned, to a spacing of about 15cm between each plant.

It is essential that kohlrabi continue to get enough water throughout the growing season. If they are subjected to drought conditions then the roots can become woody. Weeds should be removed to reduce competition and an organic mulch could be beneficial in hot weather.

Kohlrabi are an excellent companion plant for beetroot and for other brassicas and will grow happily and possibly benefit a range of other food crop plants. Onions and herbs such as thyme are said to be good companion plants for brassicas and they may repel or deter a range of pests, such as the cabbage worm and cabbage looper.

Kohlrabi can suffer from club root and should like other brassicas should not be planted in affected soil. They can also suffer from attacks by pigeons and other birds, and from cabbage-root fly. It can be a good idea to net kohlrabi plants in order to prevent too many losses.

Crops of kohlrabi can be ready in as little as a couple of months from planting. You should harvest when the stem bases are between golf ball and tennis ball size. If you leave kohlrabi in the ground for too long then they will lose their taste and tenderness.

Why grow kohlrabi in the garden?

You can eat both the leaves and the turnip like bulb of kohlrabi, meaning that nothing goes to waste. They are a versatile vegetable that can be used in many ways in the kitchen. The bulbs can be used in salads, grated to make a coleslaw or cooked and eaten in ways that make them taste a little like turnips and a little like the stem section of broccoli. The leaves are like cabbage and can be used in all the same ways.

Since kohlrabi is fast growing it is less susceptible to diseases faced by all members of the brassica family. It is said to be a beneficial companion for beetroot and perhaps cucumbers.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Brassica oleracea v. gongylodes