Grow White and Purple Kohlrabi
Made at Home Vegetables, by Dick Strawbridge and James Strawbridge (Mitchell Beazley, 2012), proves just how productively green you can be all year round. Whether you have a tiny urban plot, a terrace, a community garden allotment or plenty of space in your own garden, growing your own vegetables is one of the easiest ways to transform the way you eat. The following excerpt from the chapter “Autumn” teaches you how to grow and harvest white kohlrabi and purple kohlrabi.
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Kohlrabi may look like a mutant vegetable from another planet but it is actually a fairly normal brassica that grows extremely easily. One of the great things about it is that it matures quickly and is relatively problem-free. There are two main varieties: white (or light green) and purple. Both taste great, so grow a single variety or a colourful combination in your garden.
You can sow your kohlrabi from late winter onwards if you are using a cloche or seed trays under cover. Sow seeds in small batches but often, to provide yourself with a steady supply of kohlrabi. Scatter the seed thinly in rows 30cm (1 foot) apart, covering them with 1cm (1/2 inch) of compost.
Thin out the seedlings when they are around 5cm (2 inches) tall and have formed proper leaves, to leave about 15cm (6 inches) between each plant. If you are transplanting them outside from trays, wait until early to mid spring and harden the seedlings off during the day — putting them outside and bring them back inside each evening.
Watering and weeding are important for young plants. If there hasn’t been much rain and you are worried about your kohlrabi drying out, try to keep them shaded from the sun by heaping grass cuttings or mulch around them. This will also prevent them becoming too woody in texture.
Pests & Diseases
One key job that you have to take seriously is netting. Young brassica seedlings are very attractive to pigeons and they will devastate your crops if you don’t protect them.
Don’t wait until your kohlrabi are huge or they may be tough, fibrous and bland. Instead, try to pick them — especially the white varieties — when the bulbs are about the size of a tennis ball. Some of the purple-skinned varieties can grow very large without developing this toughness, so it’s safe to leave them to grow.
To store your kohlrabi, remove the leaves and set aside any that have damaged roots or diseased patches. If you are aiming to keep kohlrabi for longer than a week in the fridge, the best option is to keep them moist. Either wrap them in a damp towel or store them in a clamp with moist sand. Alternatively, cut them in half, blanch them and freeze for long-term storage.
Kohlrabi tastes like a cross between cabbage and celery, and has a nutty quality. Trim off the stems and ends and peel the bulb like a potato. Try it both raw and cooked — it is best to keep it a little ‘al dente.’ You can eat the leaves too: they are good sautéed with butter and garlic.
More from Made at Home Vegetables
• Grow Large, Juicy Garlic Bulbs
• Garlic Pizzas Recipe
• Grow Your Own Sweetcorn in the Summer
• Sweetcorn Fritters With Salsa and Lime Mayo Recipe
• How to Grow Fennel
• Roasted Fennel With Blue Cheese and Chestnuts Recipe
• Kohlrabi Coleslaw Recipe
Reprinted with permission from Made at Home Vegetables, by Dick Strawbridge and James Strawbridge, and published by Mitchell Beazley, 2012. Buy this book from our store: Made at Home Vegetables.
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