in Northeast Florida Vegetable Gardens
(Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)
Kohlrabi is a must try vegetable plant for the Northeast Florida area gardener! Although Kohlrabi is quite popular in Europe and Asian cultures, it may very well be the most underutilized, under appreciated vegetable in the United States. It is fast growing, and easy to care for producing edible leaves and bulbs (corms) in as little as 50 days from planting depending on selection.
Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica family and closely related to cabbage, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. It’s unusual alien looking form is fun for a children’s garden and the sweet flavor of the corm is sure to please even the pickiest of pallets.
Foliage, Origins, and Use of Kohlrabi / Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes for Northeast Florida vegetable gardens:
Developed over time with careful breeding from it’s wild cabbage relative, Kohlrabi comes from Northern Europe and is said to have been grown by the Ancient Romans. The word Kohlrabi is German meaning cabbage turnip.
Kohlrabi is traditionally grown and cultivated for it’s large swollen corm that is formed on the stalk just a few inches from ground level. The corm develops stems that shoot in all directions from the round base with leaves that very much resemble an open head of cabbage. These petiole or stems give Kohlrabi its characteristic “other worldly” appearance.
Both the corm and the leaves are edible. The leaves make and excellent addition to stir fries or can be added to pot herbs and prepared with mustard greens and collard greens.
Young corms can be eaten raw, thinly sliced or shredded and added to salads. Young tender corms 3 inches or less in diameter can be roasted as is with the skins in tact, sliced and broiled or sauteed. Older or larger corms will need to be peeled before being served.
Kohlrabi has a mild sweet flavor perhaps best described as a turnip and apple cross. If left in the garden during the heat of summer and not harvested when young, they develop a pungent radish like flavor and the texture will be more fibrous.
Planting Season for Kohlrabi in Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida and their surrounding areas:
Kohlrabi is considered a cool season crop and should be planted in fall, through winter and early spring for the Northeast Florida vegetable garden.
Start your Kohlrabi vegetable plants anytime from September to March in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area vegetable garden.
The plants mature at about 2 ft of height and are a nice addition to vegetable garden.
Sun Exposure for Growing Kohlrabi in Northeast Florida Vegetable Gardens:
Plant your Kohlrabi in a full sun or afternoon sun location for the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area vegetable garden.
Soil Preferences for kohlrabi / Brassica oleraca var. gongylodes in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida areas:
Although Kohlrabi plants are tolerant of cold, heat, and drought, Kohlrabi will do best in the Northeast Florida garden when grown in soils that have been generously amended with compost.Keep soils moist but not wet.
Amend your vegetable planting site generously with a good quality compost each year in spring before planting your Kohlrabi into Florida’s native soils for best results.
Care of Kohlrabi in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Watering Your Kohlrabi Plants:
Newly planted Kohlrabi will require watering daily for the first few days to a week after being planted from seed or transplanted from an S & J Nursery container.
Once the Kohlrabi plants are established and growing, be sure to keep the soil moist by watering at least once a week if rainfall is scarce.
Mulching your Kohlrabi Vegetable Plants:
For maximum growth potential, mulch plants generously, this will help conserve any existing moisture in the soils.
Fertilizing Your Kohlrabi Vegetable Plants:
Feed every two to three weeks with an all purpose fertilizer like 6-6-6.
Or for an organic approach, try fertilizing with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed (kelp) at one ounce each per gallon of water. Apply semi weekly as a foliar spray.
If your vegetable plants look like they could use a boost, give them a good watering with homemade compost tea as soon as the top few inches of soil around your plant is dry to the touch!
Harvesting Your Kohlrabi Vegetable Plants in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Most kohlrabi cultivars will be ready for harvest somewhere between 50-70 days. Harvest leaves when harvesting the corm and remember to harvest smaller corms before they reach 3 inches in diameter for best flavor and tenderness.