Trend Watch: Is Kohlrabi the New Kale?

'Grand Duke' kohlrabi was an All-America Selections winner way back in 1979.  (Photo courtesy of All-America Selections)

‘Grand Duke’ kohlrabi was an All-America Selections winner way back in 1979. (Photo courtesy of All-America Selections)

We try to keep an eye on what’s hot and what’s not in the gardening world, and we’ve noticed over the past year or so that kohlrabi is getting a lot of ink (or maybe pixels). We’ve seen posts about cooking kohlrabi on food blogs (like this one, this one and even Martha’s), which brings up the question: Is kohlrabi the new kale?

Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, which also includes cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. While you can eat the tender leaves of kohlrabi, most of the cooking attention focuses on the bulb that forms along the plant’s stem. Its flavor and texture have been described as similar to jicama, broccoli stems or radishes. It can be eaten cooked or raw and, like its fellow Brassicas, is packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Growing kohlrabi is similar to other Brassicas as well. They prefer cool weather, so you should start them indoors four to six weeks before the last frost. (In the central part of Minnesota, that would mean starting the kohlrabi in the first two weeks of April indoors.) When the weather is warmer, harden them off and plant in the garden in a sunny, well-drained spot. Consistent watering and mulch or regular weeding will help them grow well. Another growing alternative is to start the plants indoors in summer for a fall crop. Kohlrabi are generally ready for harvest 50 to 70 days after transplanting.

You can harvest the leaves for salads or cooked dishes as the plants grow. The bulbs are best harvested fairly small (2 to 3 inches wide) and can be eaten in slaws or cooked.

What new vegetable will you be planting in your 2015 garden?

 

 

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