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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Kohlrabi

growing kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, scientifically known as Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes, is a hardy vegetable that is gaining popularity in culinary applications across a multitude of cultures. Originating from the Mediterranean region, it's now cultivated and consumed globally, providing our dishes with its crisp texture and mildly sweet, broccoli-like flavor.

Kohlrabi comes in various types, but the most popular are the purple and green varieties. The purple variety is appreciated for its vibrant, attractive hue and slightly spicier flavor, while the green variety is favored for its softer, mellower taste.

Besides being a versatile culinary vegetable, kohlrabi also offers a wealth of health benefits. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and it provides a good source of dietary fiber and potassium. Furthermore, its high antioxidant content can support overall health.

Growing kohlrabi in your own garden can be a rewarding venture. Not only will you have a fresh supply of this beneficial vegetable, but you'll also enjoy its visually pleasing, bulbous form, which can add an interesting aesthetic to your vegetable patch.

In the upcoming sections, we'll delve into how you can plant, grow, and harvest kohlrabi in your own garden, ensuring that you're never short of this versatile vegetable when you're cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Optimal growing conditions for kohlrabi - Climate, sunlight, and soil requirements Optimal

Kohlrabi is a cool-season vegetable that thrives under certain growing conditions. Understanding these requirements is crucial for cultivating a successful kohlrabi crop. This section will discuss the ideal climate, sunlight, and soil needs for your kohlrabi garden.


Kohlrabi prefers cooler weather and grows best in temperatures between 40 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (4-24 degrees Celsius). It can withstand a light frost, which makes it a good candidate for early spring or late fall planting.

In areas with mild winters, kohlrabi can be grown as a winter crop. Conversely, in regions with hot summers, it's best to avoid planting kohlrabi during the peak heat as high temperatures can cause the plants to bolt, leading to woody and inedible bulbs.


Like most vegetables, kohlrabi needs plenty of sunlight to grow well. A location with full sun, receiving at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily, is ideal. However, kohlrabi can tolerate partial shade, especially in areas with intense afternoon sun, as the shade can help to moderate soil temperatures.


Kohlrabi grows best in rich, well-draining soil. The soil should be high in organic matter, which can be achieved by adding compost or well-rotted manure before planting. This will help to retain moisture while also providing nutrients for the plants.

A soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5 is ideal for kohlrabi. If you're unsure about your soil pH, consider getting a soil test. Depending on the results, you may need to add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it.

Good soil preparation is key to growing a healthy kohlrabi crop. Make sure to break up any hard clods of soil and remove any rocks or debris that could inhibit the growth of the bulb.

Step-by-step Guide to Planting Kohlrabi

growing kohlrabi

When to Plant – Best time of the year for planting Vegetable Name

Kohlrabi is a cool-weather crop and timing your planting correctly is essential for a successful harvest. This section will guide you on the best times of the year to plant kohlrabi in your garden.

Spring Planting

For a spring crop, you can start planting kohlrabi as soon as the soil can be worked, usually 3 to 4 weeks before the last expected spring frost. Kohlrabi seedlings can tolerate a light frost, and cooler weather in the early growth stages can lead to sweeter tasting bulbs.

Fall Planting

For a fall crop, plant your kohlrabi seeds in late summer, about 6 to 8 weeks before your first expected fall frost. The maturing plants will grow into the cooling weather of fall, which is ideal for kohlrabi development.

Succession Planting

For a continuous harvest, consider succession planting. Sow a new round of seeds every 2 to 3 weeks during the planting season. This will give you a steady supply of kohlrabi at different maturity stages throughout the growing season.

Remember, kohlrabi grows best in cooler weather. In regions with hot summers, avoid planting during the peak heat, as high temperatures can cause the plants to bolt, or go to seed quickly, leading to woody, inedible bulbs.

By timing your planting appropriately, you can maximize your yield and enjoy the fresh, crisp taste of homegrown kohlrabi throughout the growing season. In the next section, we'll delve into how you can select the best seeds or seedlings for your garden. Stay tuned!

Seed Selection – Choosing the right seeds for your garden

Selecting the right seeds is the first crucial step in your kohlrabi growing journey. The variety of kohlrabi you choose will determine the size, color, and flavor of your crop. This section will guide you on how to make the best choice for your garden.

Variety Selection

Kohlrabi comes in a range of varieties, each with its unique characteristics. The most commonly grown are green and purple varieties.

1. Green Varieties: Green varieties like 'Early White Vienna' or 'Grand Duke' are appreciated for their tender and mildly sweet bulbs. They are also known for their faster maturity, making them a great choice if you're aiming for a quick harvest.

2. Purple Varieties: Purple varieties such as 'Purple Vienna' or 'Kolibri' offer a vibrant, attractive color, making a striking addition to your garden and your plate. They are generally slightly spicier than their green counterparts.

Consider Your Climate

When choosing a variety, consider your local climate and the season. Some varieties are more heat-tolerant, making them suitable for planting in late spring or early summer. Others are more cold-tolerant, ideal for early spring or fall planting.

Seed Source

Always buy your kohlrabi seeds from a reputable seed supplier. This ensures that your seeds are disease-free and have a good germination rate. Check the packaging for the seed variety, planting instructions, and the date of packaging. It's best to use fresh seeds, as older seeds may have a lower germination rate.

Remember, the choice of seeds will largely determine the success of your crop. So take your time to choose a variety that suits your taste preferences, growing conditions, and overall gardening goals.

Site Preparation – How to prepare the garden bed or pot for planting

growing kohlrabi

Proper site preparation is key to the successful cultivation of kohlrabi. This involves selecting a suitable location and preparing your garden bed or pots adequately. This section will guide you on how to create an optimal growing environment for your kohlrabi plants.

Selecting a Suitable Location

Kohlrabi prefers a location that receives full sun, with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. However, it can tolerate partial shade. Choose a spot with good air circulation to minimize the risk of fungal diseases.

Soil Preparation

Kohlrabi thrives in well-draining, rich soil. Here's how to prepare your garden bed:

1. Clear the Area: Remove any weeds or debris from your garden bed. Weeds can compete with your kohlrabi plants for nutrients and water.

2. Test and Adjust Soil pH: Kohlrabi prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH, between 6.0 and 7.5. Use a soil test kit to check your soil's pH. If needed, you can add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it.

3. Enrich the Soil: Add plenty of organic matter, like compost or well-rotted manure, to your garden bed. This will improve soil fertility, structure, and moisture retention.

4. Loosen the Soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. This allows the kohlrabi roots to penetrate the soil easily and develop healthy bulbs.

Preparing Pots for Planting

If you're growing kohlrabi in pots, select containers that are at least 10 inches deep and wide. Make sure the containers have adequate drainage holes. Fill the pots with a good-quality potting mix, preferably one that's rich in organic matter.

Planting Process - Detailed Steps on How to Plant Seeds or Seedlings

Planting your kohlrabi correctly is crucial for its growth and development. Whether you're planting seeds or seedlings, following these detailed steps will help ensure a successful start to your kohlrabi crop.

Planting Kohlrabi Seeds

1. Prepare the Soil: Ensure your garden bed or potting soil is well-prepared as previously discussed.

2. Sow the Seeds: Plant the kohlrabi seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the soil. If you're planting multiple rows, space the rows about 18 to 24 inches apart to allow room for growth and good air circulation.

3. Space the Seeds: Space the seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart. Once the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, you can thin them to about 4 to 6 inches apart. The thinned seedlings can be eaten as a tasty microgreen!

4. Cover and Water: Cover the seeds with soil and water the area gently but thoroughly. Keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds germinate, usually in about 7 to 14 days.

Planting Kohlrabi Seedlings

1. Choose Healthy Seedlings: If you're planting seedlings, choose ones that are healthy and vigorous, with a strong stem and vibrant leaves.

2. Prepare the Planting Hole: Dig a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the seedling's root system.

3. Plant the Seedling: Place the kohlrabi seedling in the hole, with the top of the root ball level with the soil surface. Backfill with soil and firm gently around the base of the seedling.

4. Water Well: Water the seedling thoroughly after planting. Maintain consistent soil moisture, but avoid waterlogging the soil.

Remember, whether you're planting seeds or seedlings, proper planting technique is crucial for the successful establishment of your kohlrabi plants. In the upcoming sections, we'll delve into the ongoing care needed for your kohlrabi crop, including watering, fertilizing, and pest control. Stay tuned!

Care for Growing Kohlrabi

growing kohlrabi

Watering – How often and how much to water the plants

Proper watering is critical for the successful cultivation of kohlrabi. Inconsistent watering can lead to split or woody bulbs, while overwatering can lead to root rot. This section will guide you on the best watering practices for your kohlrabi garden.

Frequency of Watering

Kohlrabi prefers consistently moist, but not waterlogged, soil. In general, watering once a week should be sufficient. However, you may need to water more frequently during hot, dry weather or if your soil drains very quickly. On the other hand, less frequent watering might be necessary in cooler weather or if your soil retains water well.

A good way to gauge if your kohlrabi needs water is to feel the soil. If the top inch of the soil feels dry, it's time to water.

Amount of Water

When watering, aim to moisten the soil to a depth of about 6 inches. This encourages the development of a strong, deep root system, which can better support the plant and make it more resilient in the face of dry conditions.

Watering Technique

Water at the base of the plants to avoid wetting the foliage, which can promote the spread of diseases. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems are excellent for this, as they deliver water directly to the soil around the plants.


Consider applying a layer of organic mulch, like straw or shredded leaves, around your kohlrabi plants. Mulch helps conserve soil moisture, keep the soil cool, and suppress weeds.

By following these watering guidelines, you can provide your kohlrabi plants with the consistent moisture they need to thrive and produce crisp, juicy bulbs.

Fertilizing – The type of fertilizer needed and how to apply it

Providing your kohlrabi with the right nutrients is a key aspect of ensuring healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. This section will guide you on the type of fertilizer needed for kohlrabi and how to apply it effectively.

Type of Fertilizer

Kohlrabi benefits from a balanced fertilizer that contains a mix of the primary macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Look for a granular or liquid fertilizer with an even N-P-K ratio, such as 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. You can also use a vegetable-specific fertilizer.

Kohlrabi, like other members of the cabbage family, also appreciates an extra dose of nitrogen. This can be achieved by adding well-rotted manure or compost to your soil, or using a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer like blood meal or feather meal.

How to Apply Fertilizer

Before planting, mix the granular fertilizer or compost into the soil. This will give your kohlrabi a good start and ensure that the nutrients are readily available when the plants begin to grow.

After the plants are established and the bulbs begin to form, apply a second dose of fertilizer. Follow the package instructions for the correct amount. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the base of the plants, being careful to avoid the foliage, then water well to help the nutrients soak into the soil.

Consider Soil Testing

If you're unsure about your soil's nutrient content or pH level, consider getting a soil test. The results can provide valuable insights into your soil's condition and guide your fertilization strategy.

Disease and Pest Control – Common diseases and pests that can affect kohlrabi, and how to manage them

While kohlrabi is generally easy to grow, it can sometimes be affected by certain diseases and pests. Early identification and management are key to maintaining a healthy crop. This section will outline the common problems you may encounter and provide practical solutions.


1. Clubroot

Clubroot is a soil-borne disease that causes swollen and deformed roots, leading to wilting and stunted growth. The best defense against clubroot is crop rotation and maintaining a soil pH above 7.0, as the clubroot fungus prefers acidic conditions.

2. Black Rot

Black rot is a bacterial disease that causes yellowing and wilting of the leaves, often starting at the edges and moving inward. Prevent black rot by rotating crops, avoiding overhead watering, and removing and discarding affected plants.


1. Cabbage Worms and Loopers

These caterpillars can eat large portions of the kohlrabi leaves. Handpick them off or use a garden hose to spray them away. For larger infestations, consider using a biological pesticide like Bacillus thuringiensis.

2. Aphids

Aphids are small insects that suck the sap from kohlrabi leaves, causing them to curl and yellow. They can be washed off with a strong stream of water or controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

3. Flea Beetles

Flea beetles can cause small holes or pits in the leaves. Use row covers to protect young plants and consider using a pyrethrin-based insecticide for serious infestations.

Prevention is the Best Defense

Most disease and pest problems can be prevented or minimized by following good gardening practices. These include:

1. Crop Rotation: Avoid planting kohlrabi or other cabbage family crops in the same location two years in a row. This can help prevent the build-up of disease and pests.

2. Cleanliness: Keep your garden clean by removing plant debris that can harbor pests and diseases.

3. Healthy Soil: Maintain healthy soil with plenty of organic matter. Healthy plants are less likely to succumb to diseases and pests.

By being vigilant and proactive in disease and pest control, you can help ensure a thriving, productive kohlrabi crop.

Harvesting Kohlrabi

growing kohlrabi

When to Harvest – Identifying signs that the kohlrabi is ready for harvesting

Knowing when to harvest your kohlrabi can significantly impact its texture and flavor. Harvesting at the right time ensures that you get to enjoy your kohlrabi at its best. In this section, we'll outline the signs that your kohlrabi is ready for harvesting.

Size of the Bulb

The primary sign that kohlrabi is ready for harvest is the size of the bulb. Ideally, you should harvest kohlrabi when the bulb is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. At this size, the bulb is tender and the flavor is at its peak.

Larger bulbs can still be harvested, but they tend to become woody and less flavorful. If left in the ground too long, the bulbs can also crack.

Growth Duration

The number of days to maturity can also give you an indication of when to harvest. Most kohlrabi varieties are ready to harvest 45 to 60 days after planting.

Leaf Condition

Look at the condition of the leaves. Healthy, vibrant leaves usually indicate that the kohlrabi is still actively growing and is not yet ready to harvest. As the plant matures, the leaves may begin to yellow or wilt, indicating that it's time to harvest.

How to Harvest – Techniques for harvesting kohlrabi to prevent damage to the plant and fruit

Once your kohlrabi is ready for harvest, the next step is to gather the bulbs without damaging them or the plant. This section will guide you on the proper techniques to ensure a successful harvest.

Tools for Harvesting

While kohlrabi can be harvested by hand, a sharp knife can make the process easier and cleaner. Make sure your tools are clean to prevent the spread of diseases.

Harvesting Technique

1. Identify the Bulb: Locate the bulb at the base of the plant. It should be sitting just above the soil surface.

2. Cut at the Base: Using your knife, cut the stem about an inch below the bulb. If you're harvesting by hand, grip the bulb and pull it upwards, twisting slightly.

3. Remove the Leaves: After harvesting, remove the leaves by cutting them off at the top of the bulb. The leaves can be saved and cooked like collard greens or kale.

Multiple Harvests

In some kohlrabi varieties, removing the main bulb will stimulate the growth of smaller bulbs along the base of the stem. If you're growing one of these varieties, you can enjoy multiple harvests from a single plant.

Post-Harvest Care and Storage – How to store and preserve kohlrabi for maximum freshness and longevity

Once your kohlrabi has been harvested, proper care and storage are key to preserving its freshness and flavor. This section will provide tips on how to store and preserve your harvested kohlrabi.

Immediate Post-Harvest Care

After harvesting, it's important to clean the kohlrabi bulbs to remove any soil or debris. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently clean the bulbs. Avoid washing the bulbs until you're ready to use them, as moisture can promote spoilage.

How to Store Kohlrabi

1. Short-Term Storage: For short-term storage, you can keep the cleaned kohlrabi in the refrigerator. Place the bulbs in a perforated plastic bag to maintain humidity and store them in the vegetable drawer. They should keep for several weeks.

2. Long-Term Storage: For long-term storage, kohlrabi can be blanched and frozen. To do this, cut the bulbs into slices or cubes, blanch them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then quickly cool them in ice water. Drain well, then freeze the blanched pieces in a single layer on a tray. Once frozen, they can be transferred to airtight bags or containers and kept in the freezer for up to 12 months.

Preserving Kohlrabi

In addition to freezing, kohlrabi can also be pickled for long-term storage. Pickled kohlrabi can be a delicious and crunchy addition to salads, sandwiches, and charcuterie boards.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How long does it take kohlrabi to grow

Kohlrabi typically reaches maturity and is ready for harvest about 45 to 60 days after planting from seed. However, this can vary slightly based on the specific variety of kohlrabi you are growing and the growing conditions. Generally, kohlrabi is harvested when the bulb is approximately 2 to 3 inches in diameter for the best flavor and texture.

Recap and Final Thoughts: Time to Start Planting, Growing, and Harvesting kohlrabi

As we wrap up this comprehensive guide on growing kohlrabi, let's quickly revisit the essential steps in the process.

1. Choosing the Right Seeds: Start by selecting a suitable kohlrabi variety based on your climate and personal preferences.

2. Site Preparation: Prepare your garden bed or pots adequately, ensuring you have well-draining, rich soil, and a location that gets plenty of sun.

3. Planting: Plant your kohlrabi seeds or seedlings correctly and at the right time of the year. Remember, kohlrabi is a cool-season crop that can be planted in early spring or late summer for a fall harvest.

4. Caring for Your Plants: Provide your kohlrabi plants with consistent watering, suitable fertilization, and be proactive about disease and pest control.

5. Harvesting: Harvest your kohlrabi when the bulbs are about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, typically 45 to 60 days after planting.

6. Post-Harvest Care: Store your harvested kohlrabi properly to maintain its freshness and flavor.

Growing your own kohlrabi can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. This crisp, versatile vegetable is not only delicious but also packed with valuable nutrients. By following the guidelines in this article, you're well-equipped to start your kohlrabi growing journey.

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