Yesterday, I started planting out our kohlrabi seedlings in a strip parallel to the pumpkins. They’re faster to mature, so I hope we harvest them before the pumpkins take over. We have been growing kohlrabi for the past four years. They are pretty easy to grow. Kohlrabi comes in purple (the type which I normally grow) and green (which I’m growing for the first time). I have three different kinds of green kohlrabi in my seed collection: “Green” (McGregors), “Emereld F1” (Kings) and “Green Duke Hybrid” (thanks to Yates, who sent me this complimentary packet of seeds when I joined the Spring Veggie Growing Challenge). I decided to sow the green variety from McGregors as it expires this year, whereas the other two packets had better expiry dates so I will keep them for future seasons.
The shape of kohlrabi is fascinating. Mum calls it sputnik! I think of it as a root crop (I’m not sure whether this is correct or not), but the bulb sits entirely above the ground. It is quite unlike most other veggies, which is what makes it so special. Kohlrabi is not something you can buy at the supermarket, making it a good thing to grow in your garden. In fact, I had never eaten kohlrabi until I started gardening and decided to give it a go after reading about it in the NZ Gardener magazine. While it’s not a common veggie in New Zealand, it is eaten in other countries, including Scandinavia and Germany. When I ran a boutique plant nursery last year, I had a customer from Kashmir who purchased four trays of plants. He and his wife told me that it is used in Kashmiri cuisine. Kohlrabi is very nutritious. It can be cooked like turnip but we enjoy having it raw, grated with a bit of salt.
Here are my top growing tips:
· Kohlrabi can be grown in spring and autumn. For spring, I normally sow seeds around mid-September. For autumn, I sow seeds in February
· It is very easy to grow from seed, but you can purchase seedlings from garden centres. I sowed “Green” (McGregor’s) and “Early Purple Vienna” (Kings) on 11th September, which are now large enough for planting into the garden. I simply sprinkled some seeds in a couple of punnets filled with seed raising mix and left them outside to germinate. If you haven’t sown seed by now, it might be better to opt for plants
· You can try sowing seed direct, but I’ve had better luck raising plants in punnets first and then transplanting them in the garden. Otherwise, I find the plants end up too close to each other
· If you have sown seed, wait about three or so weeks until seedlings are large enough to be pricked out and potted up. I like using seed raising trays filled with potting mix, so the seedlings can grow a bit more before being planted outside
· Plant seedlings in a sunny area, otherwise they might not form a bulb
· Don’t use too much compost and fertiliser in the ground, or the plants will become too leafy rather than putting their energy into forming a strong bulb
· Don’t put plants too close together otherwise they won’t bulb up. I made this mistake a few years ago. However, you don’t need to leave as much space between plants as you would for cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower
· Liquid feed plants weekly for best results. I have been using Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed on my kohlrabi since they were seedlings and will continue to use this product now that they have been planted in the garden. Don’t forget that the dilution rate for young seedlings is slightly weaker than that for mature plants (check the back of the bottle)
· Protect plants from the white butterfly by using Natures Way Derris Dust from Yates (organic)
· Harvest kohlrabi as it becomes ready. Don’t worry if you can’t get through it all at once, as it stores well in the fridge
Is anyone else growing kohlrabi this year? What varieties are you growing?
The photo is of the Agria potatoes I harvested earlier this week, minus some that we had for dinner!