Harvesting Kohlrabi Plants: How And When To Pick Kohlrabi

kohlrabi
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By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

While kohlrabi is normally considered a less traditional vegetable in the garden, many people grow kohlrabi and enjoy the pleasing flavor. If you’re new to growing this crop, then you’ll likely find yourself seeking information about harvesting kohlrabi plants. When you want to know when to pick kohlrabi, it helps to learn more about the growing conditions of the plant.

Kohlrabi History and Appearance

Kohlrabi is in the same family as mustard and close relatives with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. The plant was grown first in Europe around 1500 and came to America 300 years later. It produces a swollen stem that has a broccoli or turnip type flavor and can be steamed or eaten fresh. Many people have questions about growing, caring for, and when to pick kohlrabi in the garden.

Growing Kohlrabi

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Grow kohlrabi in a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil. Before planting, work at least 3 inches of organic matter into the soil. Kohlrabi can be grown from seeds or transplants. Seeds should be planted ¼ – ¾ inch deep around one to two weeks before the last spring frost. Thin seedlings when plants grow at least three true leaves. Leave 6 inches between each plant and 1 foot between rows.

Planting every two to three weeks ensures a continuous harvest from spring through early summer. For a jump on the season, you can plant kohlrabi in a greenhouse and transplant as soon as the soil can be worked. Provide regular water, mulch for moisture retention and be sure to keep weeds to a minimal for best results.

How Long to Wait for Kohlrabi Harvest

You are probably wondering how long to wait for kohlrabi harvest. Fast growing kohlrabi grows best in temperatures 60 to 80 F.  (16-27 C.) and is ready to harvest in 50 to 70 days, or when the stem reaches 3 inches in diameter.

Harvesting kohlrabi plants is best done when they are small. This is when the vegetable’s flavor will be the best. Kohlrabi left in the garden for a long time will become extremely tough and unpleasant tasting.

How to Harvest Kohlrabi

In addition to knowing when to pick kohlrabi, you need to know how to harvest kohlrabi plants. When harvesting kohlrabi, it’s vital to keep an eye on the swelling base. Once the stem reaches 3 inches in diameter, cut the bulb form the root with a sharp knife. Position your knife at soil level, just under the bulb.

Pull the leaves off of the upper stems and wash the leaves before cooking. You can use the leaves as you would cabbage leaves. Peel off the outer skin from the bulb using a paring knife and eat the bulb raw or cook as you do a turnip.

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