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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Easy to Grow Kohlrabi . GIY Ireland

Kohlrabi is gaining in popularity and little wonder – it’s quick-growing, easy to grow and tastes great (like a very mild turnip), cooked or raw.  If you have a polytunnel or greenhouse you can sow it pretty much all year around for a continuous supply.  If growing outside, you can enjoy it from around May to October. It’s a brassica so include it in your crop rotation. Available as green, white or purple varieties, kohl rabi stems grow above the ground. They are beautiful looking, if rather strange looking plants.
Sowing
Sow a small numbers of seeds every month from April to July for a continuous supply. Don’t be tempted to sow too early as it will bolt if hit by cold weather. The green varieties mature more quickly so sow these first.  If you have a polytunnel or greenhouse to plant them out in, you can start sowing much earlier (January on) and keep sowing until right up to October.
Your best option is to sow a couple of seeds per module in a module tray using fine seed compost. Sow 2cm deep (about a fingernail deep). Leave the tray inside or in a greenhouse.  The kohlrabi should germinate quite quickly (within a week). Remove the weaker seedling.
Growing
The seedlings will be ready to transplant about 4-6 weeks later. Leave 25-30cm between plants and 30cm between rows. Kohlrabi like free-draining fertile soil, but they are far less demanding than other brassicas. It’s important when planting the seedling out, to plant it level with the ground (do not plant too deep as you might with other seedlings).  This is because the lower stem is what will swell out to produce the delicious food and if you bury this, it might rot.  Water regularly throughout the season as they go woody in dry weather. You do not need to earth up kohlrabi as you would with some brassicas.
Harvesting
Depending on the variety kohlrabi take between six and sixteen weeks to mature. Lift when they are tennis-ball size. Later sowings can be left in the soil over autumn and early winter, but lift before frosts.
Recommended Varieties
Azur Star – early blue variety.
Superschmelz – tender even if allowed to grow large.
Problems
Generally easy to grow, but it’s a brassica, so clubroot and the cabbage white butterfly can be an issue.  Check the leaves for caterpillars and remove. 

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