Gardening Articles

Kohlrabi (Giant)

Spring-sown market kohlrabi are usually harvested before hot weather makes them get woody. Irrigation is not required if they're given a little extra elbow room. With ordinary varieties, try thinning to 5 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart and harvest

by thinning alternate plants. Given this additional growing room, they may not get woody until midsummer. On my irrigated, intensive bed I always sow some more on August 1, to have tender bulbs in autumn. Kohlrabi was once grown as European fodder crop; slow-growing farmers, varieties grow huge like rutabagas. These field types have been crossed with table types to make "giant" table varieties that really suit dry gardening. What to do with a giant kohlrabi (or any bulb getting overblown)? Peel, grate finely, add chopped onion, dress with olive oil and black pepper, toss, and enjoy this old Eastern European mainstay. _Sowing date:_ Sow giant varieties during April, as late as possible while still getting a foot-tall plant before really hot weather. _Spacing:_ Thin to 3 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart. _Irrigation:_ Not absolutely necessary on deep soil, but if they get one or two thorough fertigations during summer their size may double. _Varieties:_ A few American seed companies, including Peace Seeds, have a giant kohlrabi of some sort or other. The ones I've tested tend to be woody, are crude, and throw many off-types, a high percentage of weak plants, and/or poorly shaped roots. By the time this book is in print, Territorial should list a unique Swiss variety called Superschmeltz, which is uniformly huge and stays tender into the next year.

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