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Varieties Of Kohlrabi: Choosing Kohlrabi Plants For Gardens

Varieties Of Kohlrabi: Choosing Kohlrabi Plants For Gardens


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Kohlrabi is a cool season crop in the same family as Brussels sprouts and broccoli. It produces a strongly flavored swollen stem, which is the primary part eaten, although the leaves are also delicious. There are many varieties from which to choose. Since each of the different types of kohlrabi is so individual, there is a perfect variety for every gardener.

Different Types of Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi varieties are divided into different days to maturity and color. Most develop a round swollen stem, but some varieties of kohlrabi have a more flattened stem. You can find green, purple, white, and even blue fleshed kohlrabi. There are also kohlrabi plant varieties that are slow to bolt. There are types that are resistant to certain insects, such as cabbage worms. Whatever special requirements you need from your kohlrabi crop, there is probably a variety to suit your preferences.

There are more than 22 kohlrabi plant varieties from which to choose. In addition to size, color, growth rate, resistance, flavor, and shape you may also opt for varieties with longer storage characteristics. There are hybrids, heirlooms, and open pollinated varieties too, as well as types that are slow to bolt. With so many choices, it may be hard to boil it down to just one or two.

Disease resistance may be one place to start. It isn’t worth growing the bulbs if they are going to get chewed on by larvae or succumb to root maggots. Some of the heirloom varieties are the most resistant to pests and disease but may lack the size of some of the newer cultivars.

Gigante is resistant, an heirloom, and stores well. Additionally, the bulb is huge but not woody. Another heirloom, Early White Vienna, is a dwarf with a flattened stem and is slow to bolt. There are many other heirloom varieties that offer unique characteristics.

Kohlrabi Plants for Gardens

Visual and taste preferences are often at the forefront when we choose our crops. The varieties of kohlrabi are also divided into size and color as two overriding characteristics. Kossak is a ridiculously large bulb form but with tender flesh and tasty leaves. More common and sought after are the medium sized bulbs:

  • Quickstar
  • Early White Delicacy
  • Peking Strain
  • Tianstsin Strain
  • Dyna

Different, fun hues are also available. You can find kohlrabi plants for gardens that offer colorful variety for your vegetable larder. Purple varieties seem to be more resistant to cabbage worms and some other insects. Most of the green kohlrabi are fast growers and hardy in a variety of climates. Some colors to opt for might be:

Purple

  • Kolibri
  • Rapid
  • Purple Vienna

White

  • Kossak
  • White Vienna
  • Logo
  • Early White Vienna
  • Korridor

Just for fun there is also Azur Star with bluish bulbs and bolt resistance.

You can easily bring in some of the other desirable traits with kohlrabi varieties. Types with longer storage life include:

  • Kossak
  • Gigante
  • Superschmelz

Quick maturing varieties are:

  • Winner
  • Kolibri
  • Eder
  • Sweet Vienna
  • Granlibakken

Dyna is an open pollinated form. If you are growing this cool season lover in slightly warm temperatures, you need slow to bolt forms. Try Rapid Star or Early White Vienna.

There are so many varieties of kohlrabi, you are sure to find the one with the right attributes for your region and the perfect taste, color, and size for your family’s needs.


Kohlrabi is a fast growing vegetable that is a member of the cabbage family in fact it looks like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It is not a root crop, the bulb is the stem of the plant that swells as it grows just above the level of the soil.

The edible portion is the bulb, or enlarged stem. It is a sweet, tender vegetable with a taste similar to a broccoli stem, it can be cooked or eaten raw. The leaves are also edible.

There are several different types, white, reddish and purple. Early varieties mature in about 35-40 days with the late maturing one taking up to 80 days.

Purple varieties are slower to mature and much hardier than the white skinned varieties that is featured in this photo.

Climate and soil

Climate

Being a cool season vegetable kohlrabi is best grown in early spring before the heat arrives or in warmer climates try late summer early fall planting to take advantage of the cooler weather that as with all cool seasons veggies enhances the flavor.

Soil Conditions

This members of the brassicaceae family prefers growing conditions consisting of a well drained soil high in organic matter with medium fertility but good consistent moisture.

Soil temperatures and air temperatures differ greatest in the early spring. While air temperature might be in the range for planting or sowing seed it will take consistently warm temperature during the day and night for the soil temperature to follow suit.

Planting

Best planting method Direct sow or Seedling transplants.

Either direct sowing or seedling transplants, one is as good as the other. Depending more on spring growing conditions in your area than growing conditions for the plant.

As very young seedlings they look like many other plants in the brassica's family.

For a continuous supply sow kohlrabi every 2-3 weeks. Plant in a sunny spot they need minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Plant Care

The most important aspects of caring for kohlrabi are

  1. Thinning
  2. Weed control
  3. Moisture
  4. Fertilizer

Thinning

Transplant or thin seedlings to 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart.

Weed And Moisture Control

Keep the crop well watered and mulched to prevent moisture loss and weeds. As with all fast growing vegetables consistent moisture is important to help in retaining a sweet, tender taste.

Fertilizer

Kohlrabi is not an overly heavy feeders. Fertilizing with 3-4 quarts per 100 sq feet (3.3-4.4 liters per 9.3 square meters) of a good organic all purpose 5-5-5 fertilizer approximately 2 weeks before sowing or transplanting will usually see a crop through to harvest in most gardens.

Crop Rotation

Kohlrabi is another member of the very large Brassicaceae family so as with others to help reduce disease, do not plant them in the same place as any other member of the Brassicaceae family more than once every three to four years.

Pests and diseases

Pests

Aphids , Cabbage Loopers, Cabbage Root Maggots, Flea Beetles, Imported Cabbage worms, Slugs

Diseases

Black Rot, Clubroot, Yellows.

Harvesting and Storing

Harvesting

Kohlrabi can be continuously harvested until the stems are 2-3 inches (approx 5-8 cm)in diameter. After that the plants will most likely be too old and tough.

Start harvesting kohlrabi when the first stem is one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Storage

Short term storage for kohlrabi is to place the root (actually a swollen stem ) in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. It will last for about a week.

Freezing is also an option, if you’d like to be able to store kohlrabi for longer periods.


How to Grow Your Own Kohlrabi

There is something you should know first before starting this plant project. Kohlrabi is a cool-weather crop that is very easy to grow! You read that right, so no need to get nervous.

Attention all budding gardeners, growing kohlrabi at home is beginner-friendly.

It’s a fast-maturing vegetable that will be a great addition to any garden. Look, it just takes about 45 to 60 days for kohlrabi to mature depending on the variety and weather conditions. It’s best grown in fall or early spring.

As said above, kohlrabi grows quickly so part of the maintenance for this plant is keeping the soil moist and rich in organic matter—you know, just the basic plant care for any of your other crops.

If what I’ve listed above haven’t sold you yet on growing kohlrabi at home (though I hope by now you’ve already fallen in love with this plant, just like I did), then here’s another reason for you to include it in your garden:

Kohlrabi is not often available in the local market.

Not many people are familiar with this wonderful vegetable so that’s why you only seldom see them. So if you do want to enjoy the taste and health benefits of kohlrabi, it’s best to just grow it yourself!

Time to learn how to grow kohlrabi!


Requirements for Growing Kohlrabi in Pots

Location

Place this vegetable at a location where it can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. For healthy and fast-growing plants, sunlight is crucial. Although Kohlrabi can tolerate partial shade to some extent. You can also grow in your east facing balcony or on your patio too.

Loamy, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is ideal. You can further amend the soil with the addition of well-rotted manure or compost once or twice during the growing period.

Watering

To prevent the stem from turning tough and woody, keep the soil evenly moist. In containers watering frequently becomes even more important as they dry out quickly. In any case, avoid overwatering.


SAVING SEED FROM KOHLRABI IN THE UK

If the plant survives winter it will start to produce yellow flowers in May time on the ends of large stalks. The flowers will then die down and long thin seed pods will begin to form. At this point the plant will have grown to about 1.5m high and this is another problem. April / May winds in the UK can damage the plants significantly so the overwintered plants need to be a protected position.

The green seed pods will turn brown in June or July and the seeds can then be harvested. One plant will produce hundreds of seeds. Only open pollinated Kohlrabi is worth it for saving seeds, the quality of seed from F1 plants will be very variable.

Given the problems of overwintering, wind damage in spring and the space occupied by the plants when fully grown it's only the most determined who will try saving Kohlrabi seeds for themselves in the UK! After all, a packet of shop bought seeds can cost less than £2.


Brassicas: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

Sprouting Cole Crops
Cole crop seed is slightly more tender than the mature plant. In order to sprout, it must be planted in rich, moist soil with the air temperature about 60° F and the soil temperature at least 45° F. Germination occurs four to eight days after planting seeds.

Once a seed sprouts, it sends down the start of its taproot while the stem and first leaves develop. These first leaves are called seed leaves. True leaves appear next and the plant is on its way toward fulfilling its natural goal: to produce flower buds that will eventually open and give way to a seed stalk.

Cabbage and Brussels sprouts actually surround a seed case with their tightly folded leaves, forming a head. Broccoli and cauliflower heads, or "curds", are tight bunches of the buds themselves.

Once the heads have formed, they gradually loosen (unless you pick them, of course) to make room for the seed stalk to develop. This loosening action is triggered under certain temperature, daylight and growing conditions, causing the plant to bolt, or go to seed.

Broccoli - Sprouts with Clout!
When broccoli first came to this country from Italy, it was considered exotic. Now, it's as much a part of our gardens and kitchens as peas or carrots.

The bluish green mature heads of broccoli can be harvested from early summer to late fall, depending on your climate and growing conditions. Once the first large head is harvested, most broccoli varieties produce smaller side, or lateral, shoots that extend the harvest for weeks.

In the North, plant broccoli in the early spring and again in midsummer for a fall harvest. The only time the plants won't produce heads is during the hottest weeks of summer. Your fall crop, however, will keep bearing shoots after the rest of your garden is spent. In the South, plant in late winter for an early summer harvest or early fall for winter harvesting. In warmer areas, you might want to try overwintering broccoli varieties.

Brussels Sprouts
Even though Brussels sprouts have been a mealtime tradition for hundreds of years, many people dislike them. You may change your mind, however, if you grow your own. The difference between frozen supermarket sprouts and your own, fresh from the garden, is unbelievable.

Growing Brussels sprouts is almost as much fun as eating them. They start out looking just like cabbage or broccoli, but as they grow, the stems become tall and thick and sprouts pop out above each large leaf along the main stems. They look like miniature palm trees. You add to this look by breaking off the lower leaves once the harvest begins. The stems can end up two to three feet high, loaded with sprouts.

This vegetable originated in Brussels, Belgium, and is still extremely popular in Europe. As more Americans try them, Brussels sprouts are becoming better known and enjoyed in this country, too.

Cabbage - King of the Garden
Cabbages of all kinds are a snap to grow and are one of the few salad vegetables you can have available from your garden well into winter. Raw cabbage is said to possess great healing power, and at one time it was prized by the Egyptians.

Cabbages can be either early, for spring planting, midseason, for planting anytime, or late for a fall crop. One thing to remember is that the late varieties need a longer growing season than the others, so you may end up planting your fall harvest earlier than a midseason variety. Check the seed packet for the days to maturity. Count back from the time you'd like to begin harvesting, and you'll have a handy planting and harvesting timetable.

Because cabbages are biennial plants, you don't have to worry about them going to seed in the garden. The main problem that gardeners have with cabbages is splitting heads, or no heads at all.

Cauliflower - "Cabbage with a College Education"
Many people are afraid to try growing cauliflower because they think it's finicky, or that it's a crop only experienced gardeners can have success with. Cauliflower, however, grows exactly like cabbage. To make the heads white or blanch them, you simply cover them with their own leaves for four or five days. Alternately, you can grow self-blanching varieties.

Cauliflower can be used in any recipe that calls for broccoli, or served raw with dips or in salads. Kids will often eat vegetables raw that they refuse to eat cooked. That's fine, because raw veggies have more nutrients in them than cooked ones, and are easier for you to prepare.

Unlike broccoli, cauliflower produces only one head per plant. The head is called the "curd" and your only concern is to keep light away from it as soon as it's three to four inches across. After that, it's just harvest and enjoy. It freezes well, so be sure to plant enough.

Chinese Cabbage
'Snow Crown' and 'Early Snowball' are both popular strains of early cauliflower, reaching maturity in 50 to 60 days. Both are white, self-blanching types and are heat tolerant, so will do well in the South.

'Purple Head' is an unusual cauliflower variety that doesn't need blanching. The head matures in 80 to 85 days, and it really is purple. It turns green when you cook it and is an interesting variety for freezing or pickling.

Oriental vegetables are showing up in gardens and kitchens all over America. They're nutritious and easy to grow. Chinese cabbage is a close cousin to the rest of the cabbage family.

The leaves of this vegetable form a loose, oblong head that grows 18 to 20 inches tall. It's sometimes called -- celery cabbage -- because it also resembles the tall, ribbed stalks of celery.

The flavor of Chinese cabbage is much sweeter than standard cabbage, with a nice nut-like aftertaste. The leaves are crisp and tender and can be used in any combination salad or stir-fry dish.

Kohlrabi "Flying Saucers from Seed"
'Michihili' (72 days). Most common variety. Grows well in partial shade and will take a few autumn cold snaps. Can be harvested until November in the North, so in many parts of the country Chinese cabbage can easily become a fall, spring and even a winter delicacy.

'Jade Pagoda' (72 days). A hybrid Michihili type that grows 16" tall and produces slow-bolting, creamy yellow hearts.
This strange-looking vegetable is sometimes called a "stem turnip" because the stem just above the ground forms a fattened bulb that tastes like a sweetened turnip. The name is derived from the German words kohl (cabbage) and rabe (turnip).
Kohlrabi is started from seed in the garden for both early spring and fall crops. The plants are very hardy, and will thrive in just about any kind of soil. Just be sure to time your spring planting so it matures before the temperatures reach above 80oF, or the globes will be woody or unpleasantly pungent. Kohlrabi is the one garden vegetable that seems to be insect and disease free, making it a popular plant!

Peeled and sliced, kohlrabi makes an excellent addition to the summer crudite and dip tray. It's also deliccious lightly steamed, and lends itself well to stir-fries and soups.

The two most common kohlrabi varieties are 'Early White' 'Vienna' (it's really pale green in color) and 'Early Purple Vienna', whose skin is bright purple and looks jazzy in the garden. Both plants mature in 50 to 60 days.


Watch the video: Kohlrabi Experiment