How To Plant Kohlrabi [ Full Guide ]

Kohlrabi, with its bulbous stem and delicate, slightly spicy flavor, is a low-maintenance and rewarding vegetable to grow in your garden. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, knowing how to plant kohlrabi is essential for a successful harvest. From preparing the soil to selecting the right variety and planting seeds or seedlings, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, ensuring that you can enjoy a bountiful supply of this unique vegetable.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Kohlrabi

To plant kohlrabi, start by preparing well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Choose a sunny location and ensure the soil is rich in organic matter. Select a suitable kohlrabi variety based on your region and climate. Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep in rows, and thin seedlings to about 4-6 inches apart once they reach 2 inches in height. Alternatively, transplant kohlrabi seedlings at the same spacing. Water consistently, and incorporate a balanced fertilizer during the growing season. Harvest when the bulbs are 2-3 inches in diameter.

Now, let’s delve into each step in detail.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

Before embarking on planting kohlrabi, it’s crucial to ensure that the soil is suitably prepared. Kohlrabi thrives in well-drained, loose, and fertile soil. A pH level between 6.0 and 7.5 is optimal for the growth of this vegetable. If you’re unsure of the pH level, a simple soil test kit from your local garden center or cooperative extension service can provide accurate readings.

To enhance the quality of the soil, incorporate plenty of organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. This boosts the soil’s fertility and improves its structure, facilitating better drainage. Additionally, ensure that the selected planting area receives plenty of sunlight, ideally 6-8 hours per day, as kohlrabi plants flourish in full sun.

Selecting The Right Variety Of Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi comes in various shapes, colors, and sizes, and selecting the right variety is crucial for successful growth. When choosing a kohlrabi variety, factor in your local climate and the length of your growing season. Some popular varieties include ‘Early White Vienna’ for early harvest, ‘Grand Duke’ for larger bulbs, and ‘Purple Vienna’ for a touch of color in your garden.

If you have a short growing season, opt for quick-maturing varieties to ensure a successful harvest. It’s also beneficial to select disease-resistant varieties, as this can help combat common pests and diseases that may affect the kohlrabi plants. When in doubt, seek advice from local gardeners or extension services, as they can provide valuable insights into the best kohlrabi varieties for your specific region.

Planting Kohlrabi Seeds

Planting kohlrabi from seeds is a straightforward process that can be done directly in the garden or in seedling trays, depending on your preference. Here is a step-by-step guide to planting kohlrabi seeds:

  1. Sowing Depth: Kohlrabi seeds should be sown at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch in the soil. It’s essential to space the seeds at least 1 inch apart in rows, allowing sufficient room for the bulbs to develop.

  2. Row Spacing: When planting in rows, space them approximately 12-18 inches apart to accommodate the spread of the kohlrabi plants as they mature.

  3. Thin Seedlings: As the kohlrabi seedlings emerge and reach a height of around 2 inches, thin them to a spacing of 4-6 inches apart. This allows the bulbs to develop without crowding, promoting healthier growth.

  4. Watering: Ensure consistent watering, particularly during dry spells, to keep the soil evenly moist. However, avoid overwatering, as this can lead to rot and other moisture-related issues.

  5. Fertilization: Once the seedlings have established themselves, consider incorporating a balanced fertilizer into the soil to provide the necessary nutrients for robust growth. Follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer package for best results.

  6. Weeding: Regular weeding is essential to prevent competition for nutrients and space. Keep the area around the kohlrabi plants free from weeds to promote unhindered growth.

Transplanting Kohlrabi Seedlings

Transplanting kohlrabi seedlings is an alternative method of starting the plants, particularly if you want to kickstart the growing process indoors or are dealing with a shorter growing season. Follow these steps to successfully transplant kohlrabi seedlings:

  1. Seedling Preparation: If you’re starting kohlrabi seedlings indoors, sow the seeds in biodegradable pots or seedling trays filled with a well-draining seed-starting mix. This allows for easy transplantation without disturbing the delicate roots.

  2. Timing: Transplant the seedlings into the garden when they have developed at least two sets of true leaves and the danger of frost has passed.

  3. Spacing: Similar to direct seeding, plant the kohlrabi seedlings at a spacing of 4-6 inches apart to promote optimal growth and bulb development.

  4. Soil and Nutrient Requirements: Ensure that the soil in the transplanting area is well-prepared, with adequate organic matter and a pH level within the recommended range. Water the seedlings thoroughly before and after transplanting to minimize transplant shock.

  5. Post-Transplant Care: Keep the transplanted seedlings well-watered in the initial stages to help them establish themselves in their new environment. Monitor for any signs of stress and adjust watering as needed.

Successfully planting kohlrabi involves meticulous attention to soil preparation, variety selection, and proper planting techniques. By ensuring the soil is well-drained and fertile, selecting the right kohlrabi variety for your region, and following the appropriate steps for planting seeds or transplanting seedlings, you set the stage for a vibrant and abundant kohlrabi harvest.

Remember to provide consistent care, including adequate watering, fertilization, and weed control, throughout the growing season. With these measures in place, you can look forward to enjoying the unique and flavorful bulbs of kohlrabi as a delicious addition to your culinary adventures. Whether enjoyed raw in salads, cooked in stir-fries, or incorporated into soups and stews, the fruits of your labor in planting kohlrabi will surely be a source of satisfaction and culinary delight.

Watering And Fertilizing Kohlrabi Plants

Kohlrabi, also known as the German turnip, is a nutritious and versatile vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is a cool-season crop that thrives in moderate temperatures and is popular in many culinary dishes. Kohlrabi has a unique taste, combining the flavors of cabbage and turnip, with a crisp and crunchy texture. Planting kohlrabi in your garden can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

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Proper watering and fertilization are crucial for the successful growth of kohlrabi plants. Here are some important tips to consider:

1. Watering

Kohlrabi plants require consistent moisture to develop healthy roots and produce quality bulbs. It is essential to maintain evenly moist soil throughout the growing season. Here are some watering guidelines for kohlrabi:

  • Regular watering: Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, providing around 1 inch of water per week. If the weather is exceptionally hot or dry, you may need to increase the frequency of watering.
  • Avoid overwatering: While kohlrabi plants enjoy moist soil, they are susceptible to rot if they are consistently overwatered. Make sure the soil is well-drained to prevent excess water from pooling around the roots.
  • Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the plants can help retain moisture in the soil and reduce weed growth. This will also help regulate soil temperature and prevent fluctuations.

2. Fertilizing

Providing the right nutrients to your kohlrabi plants is essential for their growth and development. Follow these guidelines for fertilizing kohlrabi:

  • Soil preparation: Prior to planting, work organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve its fertility and nutrient content. This will provide a good foundation for your kohlrabi plants.
  • Pre-plant fertilizer: Before transplanting seedlings or direct seeding, apply a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 blend, at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. Mix the fertilizer into the soil thoroughly.
  • Side-dressing: Once the plants have established themselves, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, like blood meal or fish emulsion, as a side-dressing. This can be done when the plants reach a height of approximately 6 inches. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application rates.
  • Fertilization frequency: Kohlrabi plants benefit from monthly applications of a balanced fertilizer throughout the growing season. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth and reduced bulb development.

Managing Pests And Diseases

Kohlrabi plants can be susceptible to various pests and diseases. Implementing proper pest management strategies is vital to protect your plants and ensure a healthy crop. Here are some effective methods for managing pests and diseases:

1. Pest Prevention

Preventing pests from infesting your kohlrabi plants is the best approach. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  • Crop rotation: Avoid planting kohlrabi or other brassicas in the same location year after year. Rotate your crops to different parts of the garden to disrupt pest life cycles.
  • Physical barriers: Use floating row covers or netting to create a physical barrier that keeps pests away from your plants. This can help prevent damage caused by cabbage root maggots and flea beetles.
  • Companion planting: Interplanting aromatic herbs, such as mint or thyme, can help repel pests like cabbage worms and aphids.
  • Regular inspection: Vigilantly monitor your plants for signs of pest infestation. Early detection allows for prompt action, preventing pests from causing significant damage.

2. Common Pests

Kohlrabi plants can be attacked by various pests. Here are some common pests that affect kohlrabi and their control measures:

  • Cabbage loopers and diamondback moth larvae: These caterpillars feed on the leaves of kohlrabi plants, causing significant damage. Handpicking or using organic insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can help control these pests.
  • Flea beetles: These small, jumping beetles create tiny holes in the leaves of kohlrabi plants, resulting in a lacy appearance. Using row covers and applying insecticidal sprays, such as neem oil, can help deter flea beetles.
  • Cabbage root maggots: The larvae of these pests eat the roots of kohlrabi plants, leading to stunted growth and wilting. To prevent infestation, cover the base of each plant with a cardboard collar or use beneficial nematodes in the soil to control the larvae.

3. Disease Prevention

Kohlrabi plants are susceptible to various diseases, including fungal and bacterial infections. Here are some preventive measures to minimize the risk of disease:

  • Healthy seedlings: Start with disease-free seedlings from reputable sources. Inspect the plants carefully for any signs of disease before planting them in your garden.
  • Good air circulation: Proper spacing between plants ensures good airflow, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Avoid overcrowding and thin out seedlings if necessary.
  • Irrigation methods: Excess moisture can create a favorable environment for diseases. Water from below using drip irrigation or a soaker hose to keep the foliage dry and minimize the spread of fungal spores.
  • Clean gardening tools: Disinfect your gardening tools between uses to prevent the spread of diseases. This is especially important if you have encountered diseased plants in your garden.

4. Common Diseases

Here are some common diseases that can affect kohlrabi plants and their management strategies:

  • Powdery mildew: This fungus causes a powdery white coating on plant leaves, ultimately leading to stunted growth and reduced yield. Regular application of fungicides or organic alternatives like sulfur or neem oil can help control powdery mildew.
  • Downy mildew: This disease causes yellowish lesions on leaves and a grayish mold on the underside. Fungicides, copper-based sprays, or organic options like potassium bicarbonate can help manage downy mildew.
  • Clubroot: Clubroot is a soil-borne disease that causes swelling and deformity of the plant’s roots. It can be controlled by implementing strict crop rotation practices and ensuring proper drainage in the garden.

Thinning And Pruning Kohlrabi Plants

Thinning and pruning are essential practices to ensure proper spacing and encourage optimal growth in kohlrabi plants. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Thinning

Kohlrabi plants require adequate space for their bulbs to grow properly. Thinning involves removing excess seedlings, allowing the remaining plants to develop without competition. Here’s how to thin your kohlrabi plants:

  • Timing: Thin your kohlrabi seedlings when they have grown to approximately 2-3 inches in height. This is usually about 2 weeks after emergence.
  • Spacing: Space the remaining seedlings 4-6 inches apart, ensuring enough room for the bulbs to grow.
  • Gentle removal: Carefully uproot the unwanted seedlings to avoid damaging the roots of the remaining plants.
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2. Pruning

Pruning can help promote better air circulation and prevent overcrowding in kohlrabi plants. Here are some tips for pruning kohlrabi plants:

  • Leaf removal: Monitor your kohlrabi plants regularly and remove any yellow or damaged leaves. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and promotes healthier plant growth.
  • Alternative pruning: Some gardeners choose to remove the top central shoot (also known as the apical meristem) to encourage larger bulb development. This can result in a single, large bulb rather than multiple smaller ones. However, this practice is not necessary and is a matter of personal preference.

Harvesting Kohlrabi

Harvesting kohlrabi at the right time ensures optimal flavor and texture. Here’s how to know when your kohlrabi is ready for harvest:

  • Bulb size: Kohlrabi bulbs are typically harvested when they reach a size of 2-3 inches in diameter. They should feel firm and solid to the touch.
  • Timing: Harvesting usually occurs around 8-10 weeks after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
  • Method: To harvest kohlrabi, use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut the stems at ground level. Leave a short stem attached to the bulb to help prolong its shelf life.
  • Leaf harvest: The leaves of kohlrabi plants are also edible and can be harvested at any time. Select the outer leaves and leave the inner ones intact to allow continuous growth of the plant.

Planting kohlrabi can be a rewarding experience that provides you with a delicious and nutritious addition to your garden. By understanding the proper techniques for watering, fertilizing, pest and disease management, thinning, pruning, and harvesting, you can ensure the successful growth and abundant harvest of your kohlrabi plants. Remember to provide consistent care and monitoring throughout the growing season to reap the full benefits of this versatile vegetable.

Storing And Preserving Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, also known as the German turnip, is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family. It is known for its unique flavor, crisp texture, and high nutritional value. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked and is a popular addition to salads, soups, and stir-fries.

Before we delve into planting kohlrabi, it’s essential to know how to store and preserve this vegetable to ensure its freshness and flavor are retained for an extended period. When properly stored, kohlrabi can last up to a month.

To store kohlrabi, start by removing the leaves, as they tend to draw moisture away from the bulb. Once you’ve removed the leaves, wrap the bulbs in damp paper towels and place them in a perforated plastic bag. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to maintain their freshness.

For long-term preservation, you can also blanch and freeze kohlrabi. Start by peeling and cutting the kohlrabi into cubes or slices. Blanch the pieces in boiling water for about two minutes, then transfer them to an ice bath to cool. Pat them dry and place them in freezer-safe containers or bags. They can be stored in the freezer for up to eight months.

Cooking And Eating Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi offers a delightful culinary experience and can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some popular cooking methods and recipes to help you make the most of this versatile vegetable:

Raw in Salads: Kohlrabi can be eaten raw, and its crunchy texture and mildly sweet taste make it a great addition to salads. Peel and slice the kohlrabi into thin matchstick-like strips and toss it with your favorite salad greens, dressings, and toppings for a refreshing and nutritious salad.

Roasted: Roasting kohlrabi brings out its natural sweetness and caramelizes the edges, adding a delicious flavor profile to this vegetable. Start by peeling the kohlrabi and cutting it into bite-sized pieces. Toss the pieces in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then spread them on a baking sheet. Roast them in a preheated oven at 425°F (220°C) for about 20-25 minutes, or until they turn golden brown and crispy.

Stir-Fried: Kohlrabi’s firm texture makes it an excellent choice for stir-fries. Cut the kohlrabi into thin slices or matchsticks and stir-fry it with your favorite vegetables and seasonings. It pairs well with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and other Asian-inspired flavors. Cook for a few minutes until the kohlrabi is tender-crisp.

Soup or Stew: Kohlrabi can also be incorporated into soups and stews, adding a unique flavor and texture. Cut the kohlrabi into small cubes and add them to your favorite soup or stew recipe. Simmer until the kohlrabi is tender and flavors meld together.

Companion Planting With Kohlrabi

Companion planting is an effective gardening technique that involves planting different crops together to improve growth, reduce pests, and enhance overall plant health. When it comes to kohlrabi, there are some plants that make excellent companions and others that should be avoided. Here are some guidelines for companion planting with kohlrabi:

Good Companions: Kohlrabi grows well when planted alongside other members of the Brassica family, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. These plants have similar nutrient requirements and help deter pests that commonly affect them, such as cabbage worms and aphids. Additionally, herbs like dill and chamomile act as natural pest deterrents and can be planted near kohlrabi.

Bad Companions: On the other hand, there are some plants that do not fare well when planted near kohlrabi. These include tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and pole beans. These plants have different nutrient requirements or attract pests that can harm kohlrabi plants.

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Crop Rotation: To maintain the health of your kohlrabi plants, it’s essential to practice proper crop rotation. Avoid planting kohlrabi in the same spot where you previously grew other Brassica crops. This helps prevent the buildup of soil-borne diseases and pests that can negatively affect kohlrabi growth.

Tips For Success With Growing Kohlrabi

Growing kohlrabi can be a rewarding experience if you follow these tips for success:

Choosing the Right Variety: Selecting the right kohlrabi variety is crucial for successful cultivation. Consider factors such as maturity time, size, and flavor preference. Varieties like ‘Early Purple Vienna’ and ‘White Vienna’ are popular choices for home gardeners due to their excellent flavor and fast maturity.

Starting from Seeds: Kohlrabi is typically grown from seeds. Start the seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant the seeds in seed trays or small pots filled with well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide sufficient light for optimal germination.

Transplanting Seedlings: Once the seedlings have developed a few true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Make sure to space the seedlings at least 6-8 inches apart to allow room for growth.

Providing Adequate Water: Kohlrabi plants need regular watering to ensure healthy growth. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Mulching around the plants can help retain soil moisture and regulate temperature.

Fertilization: Kohlrabi plants benefit from regular fertilization. Before planting, mix well-rotted compost or organic matter into the soil to improve its nutrient content. Additionally, side-dress the plants with a balanced organic fertilizer once they start developing bulbs. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the application rate.

Weed Control: Keeping the area around your kohlrabi plants free from weeds is essential for their health and growth. Regularly remove weeds by hand or use mulch to suppress their growth. Weeds compete for nutrients and water, which can hinder the development of your kohlrabi plants.

Pest and Disease Management: Kohlrabi plants are susceptible to certain pests and diseases, such as cabbage worms, aphids, and clubroot. Monitor your plants regularly for any signs of damage or infestation. If necessary, use natural or organic pest control methods like handpicking, neem oil, or insecticidal soap to manage pests. Rotate your crops, as mentioned earlier, to reduce the risk of disease.

Harvesting: Kohlrabi is typically ready to harvest 55-60 days after transplanting. The bulbs should be around 2-3 inches in diameter and have a firm texture. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut the stem just above the soil level. Remove any excess leaves, but be sure to leave a small stub for easier storage and to help retain moisture.

Conclusion

Growing kohlrabi can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. By following the guidelines provided in this article, you can successfully plant, cultivate, and harvest your own kohlrabi. With proper care and attention, you’ll be able to enjoy this versatile and nutritious vegetable in a variety of delicious dishes. So why not give it a try and add kohlrabi to your garden this season?

FAQS

What Is Kohlrabi, And How Does It Grow?

Kohlrabi is a commonly grown vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is a crispy, juicy, and sweet-tasting vegetable that is rich in essential nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Kohlrabi grows best in cool weather conditions, and it is usually cultivated in the spring or fall.

When Should I Plant Kohlrabi, And How Do I Ensure That It Grows Optimally?

Kohlrabi is a hardy vegetable that can be planted well before the last frost date in the spring. However, it is best to wait until the ground has warmed up to around 50°F, which is the ideal temperature for germination. The plants also need well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 to 7.0. Kohlrabi plants prefer partial shade to full sun exposure and frequent watering.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Kohlrabi, And What Should I Do To Maintain Its Growth?

To prepare the soil, loosen it with a garden rake or cultivator, removing any large stones or clumps of dirt that may be present. Add organic matter, like compost or aged manure, to the soil to enrich it with essential nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Ensure that the plants are well-watered and fertilized regularly with an all-purpose organic fertilizer.

How Long Does It Take For Kohlrabi To Mature, And How Do I Know It Is Ready For Harvesting?

Kohlrabi typically requires between 55 to 60 days to mature after germination. However, this time may vary depending on the specific cultivator and growing conditions. When the kohlrabi bulbs start to grow to a size of 2-3 inches in diameter, it is the best time to harvest them. Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut the bulb stem about one inch above the ground level.

Are There Any Pests And Diseases That I Need To Watch Out For When Planting Kohlrabi, And How Can I Prevent Them?

Kohlrabi is susceptible to several pests and diseases, including aphids, root maggots, cabbage worms, and clubroot. To prevent these pests and seed-born diseases, avoid planting kohlrabi where other brassicas have grown before. To control insect infestations, use insecticidal soap or neem oil. You can also add organic mulch to the soil around the plant base to prevent moisture loss and deter pests.