Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a unique and tasty vegetable that is part of the cabbage family. It has the texture of a potato and tastes very similar to a mild radish. Similar in cultural requirements to cabbage, kohlrabi is grown for its unusual, swollen lower stems. In German, Kohl means cabbage and rabi means turnip. Also called stem turnip, colinabo, or rabi, it was first grown in Europe around 1500 and was imported into America 300 years later. It looks like some extraterrestrial turnip, with leaves standing out like spokes from the edible portion, which is a rounded, enlarged stem section growing just above the soil line. Kohlrabi is sometimes misclassified as a root vegetable. The leaves are also edible. They can be added to salads or boiled like spinach. Kohlrabi peelings can dried and stored in jars to add to soup stocks in winter.

Kohlrabi is a good source of Vitamin C, a serving delivers more than half of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, and the greens are a good source of iron. The bulbs are low in calories and high in fiber. A half-cup of boiled kohlrabi contains 270 milligrams of potassium and only 24 calories. A banana, often considered the gold standard for potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, has 400 milligrams of potassium but 90 calories. So you get the potassium without all the calories. Kohlrabi is grown as a cool season vegetable, and should be planted in very early spring or in the early fall. You can choose a variety with light green outside and a white interior, a pale purple outside with a light green interior, or a solid white, but purple, white and green kohlrabies taste the same. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in rows about 2 feet apart, and thin to 4 inches apart in the row. Ample soil moisture and high soil fertility are necessary for rapid growth of quality kohlrabi. It is a heavy feeder and will have the best flavor if it is grown quickly and steadily. If the weather in your area allows, you can get a spring and a fall crop. Most growth will occur in cool weather. If you can only have one crop, I recommend the fall crop as the rabi will grow best and taste it's best if it matures in cool weather. Kohlrabi seed germinates quickly and is fast growing, so it is usually planted directly in the garden rather than started indoors and transplanted. Direct sow outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Kohlrabi favors soil with a neutral pH level. By mixing lime and compost into the soil you can improve the rate of growth. For those who are short on garden space, kohlrabi also grows well in containers. Kohlrabi does not need a deep soil as it is the stem that grows into a bulb. Provide plenty of water into well drained soil. Weeds must be controlled if the stems are to reach a reasonable size. Kohlrabi roots are rather shallow, so use care when cultivating. Once the plants are a few inches high, a mulch can be spread around the plants to control weeds and to keep the soil cool and moist, but be sure that you don't cover the stems. There are few insect problems in this fast growing vegetable and Kohlrabi is generally disease free. The enlarged stem is best harvested as soon as it gets larger than a tennis ball. General size range is three to five inches. Pick as much as you need by cutting the bulb off at ground level and let the remainder continue to grow. Harvested small, it's mild and sweet, like a young turnip, but it can be come tough and fibrous if it grows too large. A little snow is of little concern for this hardy plant. If the weather is expected to go into the low twenties, you can cover any remaining plants for a day or two until the temperature inches up a bit. In my southern Oregon garden, Kohlrabi has been frost hardy down to about 10°F. Some years the plants have remained good until Christmas. The bulbs can be prepared in a variety of ways, and they are often served as an addition to a main meal. Kohlrabi can be cut into cubes or slices, and cooked, steamed, or microwaved. The leaves can be cooked and served with a main meal, or they can be tossed into salads. You can store the bulbs in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one month, or longer in a root cellar but use the greens as soon as possible in any recipe calling for mixed greens.

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To transplant container grown plants successfully, you should water your plants with a good water-soluble fertilizer, that is intended for transplants. During your transplantation you should disturb the root system as little as possible. After transplanting, your plants will need time to adjust and re-establish their root systems. They need low levels of nitrogen and potassium, but will require large quantities of phosphorous. During the period after transplantation, your plant can only absorb so much water and nutrients at first, and as a result they should have subdued light.

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It's amazing what a little fertilizer can do for plants. To get the most out of your fertilizer, sure the soil is moist before you feed your plants. Nutrients must be dissolved in water before plants are able to absorb them. And fertilizer touching a dry root might burn or shock the plant. A plant with moist roots is already absorbing moisture  and takes up nutrients at the same time.

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SEED-STARTING MIX

1 part finely sifted topsoil

1 part finely sifted compost or high-quality leaf mold

1 1/2 to 2 parts vermiculite, perlite or coarse builder's sand

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RABBIT REPELLENT

This is harmless for rabbits. It only repels them.

1/2 C. talcum powder

1/4 C. cayenne pepper

Mix the ingredients. Spread the mixture wherever you do not want the rabbits to feed.

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Brandie

"Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone"

 

 

 

 

 
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