In GROW we are often asked about the funny looking and hard to pronounce vegetable called “kohlrabi”. Kohlrabi is from the German word “kohl” which means cabbage and “rabi” which means turnip. That’s pretty descriptive for this plant that is thought to have developed from a wild form of cabbage and has the taste of a mild turnip only a little sweeter.
Kohlrabi is a hardy vegetable crop that is fairly easy to grow. It is in the brassica family (same family as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower) and is very versatile as long as you pick it when it is still tender. You can sauté, roast or slice it thin and use for slaw. The leaves are also edible with a broccoli like flavor and are best cooked since they are fairly thick.
Like many cabbage varieties, kohlrabi is a cool season crop and should be planted in late spring or very early summer. In St. Louis, it is best to plant in early spring due to our hotter spring temperatures. Kohlrabi should be harvested when the bulbous part of the stems are about 2 inches in diameter. If left too much longer, the flesh can become woody. There are two common varieties of kohlrabi—one has a pale green bulb and the other is purple as seen in this photo. The pale green is typically more common.
Come check out our specialty food crops this year. You might find inspiration for your own garden or yard. It’s fun to GROW and our team loves to talk about gardening, farming and plants. Hope to see you soon.