Kohlrabi Seeds: A Guide to Varieties and Cultivation
Kohlrabi, with its peculiar appearance and versatile culinary uses, is gaining popularity among gardeners and food enthusiasts alike. If you're considering adding this unique vegetable to your garden, understanding the different kohlrabi seed varieties and how to cultivate them is essential. This guide'll explore various kohlrabi seeds, their characteristics, and the steps to grow and enjoy this nutritious crop successfully.
Introduction to Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes) belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale. This biennial vegetable is known for its swollen, globe-shaped stem, which is the edible part of the plant. It comes in different colors, including pale green, purple, and white, with unique flavor and texture.
Varieties of Kohlrabi Seeds
Green Kohlrabi: Green kohlrabi is the most common variety, known for its light green skin and crisp, mildly sweet flesh. It is typically harvested when the bulb reaches 2-3 inches in diameter.
Purple Kohlrabi: This visually striking variety features vibrant purple skin and pale green flesh. It offers a slightly peppery flavor and retains its color when cooked.
White Kohlrabi: White kohlrabi boasts a creamy white skin and a milder, sweeter taste compared to the green variety. It's an excellent choice for those looking for a subtler kohlrabi flavor.
Selecting Kohlrabi Seeds
When selecting kohlrabi seeds, consider factors such as your climate, available space, and personal taste preferences. Ensure that the seeds are fresh and free from any signs of damage or disease. Reading seed packets or product descriptions will provide valuable information about the variety's characteristics, including its size, flavor, and days to maturity.
Planting Kohlrabi Seeds
Timing: Kohlrabi is a cool-season crop, best grown in early spring or late summer. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost date, or sow them directly in the garden when the soil temperature reaches 40°F (4°C).
Location: Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil enriched with organic matter. Kohlrabi prefers a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.
Sowing: Plant kohlrabi seeds ¼ inch deep in rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. Thin seedlings are about 4-6 inches apart when they reach a height of 2-3 inches.
Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Adequate watering is crucial for bulb development.
Fertilization: Apply a balanced fertilizer or compost before planting and side-dress with nitrogen as the plants grow.
Caring for Kohlrabi Plants
Kohlrabi is relatively low-maintenance, but a few key care practices can ensure healthy growth and bountiful harvests:
Thinning: Thinning seedlings help prevent overcrowding and ensure that each plant has enough space to form a bulb.
Mulching: Apply mulch around kohlrabi plants to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth.
Pest and Disease Management: Watch for common pests like cabbage worms and aphids. If necessary, use organic pest control methods and practice crop rotation to minimize disease risk.
Harvesting: Kohlrabi is ready for harvest when the bulb reaches 2-3 inches in diameter, usually 45-60 days after planting. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem just above ground level.
Kohlrabi is a versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed in various ways:
Raw: Slice or julienne kohlrabi for fresh salads or use it as a crunchy dipper for hummus or other dips.
Cooked: Steam, roast, or sauté kohlrabi to soften its texture and enhance its flavor. It pairs well with garlic, herbs, and butter.
Pickled: Kohlrabi can be pickled for a tangy and crispy treat.
In soups and stews: Add kohlrabi to soups and stews for a unique twist on classic recipes.
Kohlrabi is a delightful addition to any garden, offering a distinctive taste and texture. You can enjoy this nutritious and flavorful vegetable year-round by choosing the right kohlrabi seeds, following proper cultivation practices, and exploring its culinary versatility. Whether you prefer green, purple, or white kohlrabi, growing your own supply allows you to savor its unique qualities to the fullest.