ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Grow Kohlrabi

Updated on January 21, 2016
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer and gardener with extensive knowledge of plants and plant care. Her articles focus on easy-care tips for home gardeners.

What is Kohlrabi?

Here in the U.S. Kohlrabi isn't a very popular or common vegetable unless you shop at a grocery store that carries a lot of ethnic vegetables. I recently bought a few Kohlrabi at my local grocery store and had several shoppers come up to me asking me what it was and how to prepare it. It is sad that this vegetable is so unknown. It has great flavor and can be used in several different ways. I'm just glad someone was asking about it! At least these few shoppers were willing to try something new!

A member of the Brassica family of vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Kale being some others), Kohlrabi is sometimes referred to as German Turnip or Turnip Cabbage.

These interesting, Dr. Seuss looking plants come in shades of pale green or purple and can be eaten raw or cooked. The bulb as well as the leaves are eaten in both German/Eastern European cultures and Indian (East Asian) cultures.

The flavor of the flesh is a cross between a mild broccoli stem and cabbage, with a sweet undercurrent. Raw, they have the texture and crunch like Jicama.

My Kohlrabi harvest.  Purple Vienna variety.
My Kohlrabi harvest. Purple Vienna variety. | Source

Kohlrabi Origins

No one really knows how Kohlrabi came into existence. Theories suggest it was bred from the Mallow Cabbage and cultivated around the 16th Century. Other theories suggest it was cultivated much earlier, in Roman times because of similar visual descriptions found in some Roman texts.

Whatever the case may be, Kohlrabi is most popular in German cooking, where is it commonly used in stews, soups and cream sauces.

Have you ever tried Kohlrabi ?

See results

How to Grow Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is super easy to grow from seed. Direct sow in the spring when temperatures have reached 50 degrees and around 7 to 8 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Sow seeds in full-sun 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. It generally takes about 14 days to germinate, but can take a bit longer if daytime temps are too low or inconsistent.

Once they are germinated, they take about 55 to 60 days to mature. You will want to harvest when the bulbs reach no more than about 3 inches in diameter. If left to get bigger, the bulb will be more woody and bitter.

To harvest, use a knife and cut the bulb about an inch below the bottom. Store bulbs in the crisper drawer. They last about 3 weeks in the fridge.

Green Kohlrabi getting prepped for cooking
Green Kohlrabi getting prepped for cooking | Source

Possible Problems

Kohlrabi is a very hardy vegetable that doesn't have many potential problems associated with it. Two potential problems that come to mind are slugs and cabbage moths, although I have seen neither in my garden.

Slugs can be combatted easily by either hand-picking, putting copper wire around your plants or using a product like Sluggo.

Cabbage Moths are more of a problem in other brassicas i.e. Broccoli and Cabbage, but occasionally can be seen in Kohlrabi as well. They are green and hard to find unless you are specifically looking for them. They blend in well on the underside of leaves.

You have a few options to combat them; pick them off and smash them, use a chemical agent like BT if you have a heavy infestation or use a "home remedy" that some people swear by:

Crush and mince 3 cloves of fresh garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add 1 tablespoon of chili powder, and add to 1 gallon of water. Let sit for 24 hours or more. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray your plants. You will need to reapply the mix after a heavy rain. I have personally never tried this method, but others have with good results.

Purple Kohlrabi
Purple Kohlrabi | Source

Did You Know?

The bulbs of the Kohlrabi are actually the swollen stems of the plant.

Some Popular Varieties

The most common varieties available on the market today are the White Vienna and Purple Vienna*, which grow to a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. There are also some larger varieties; Grand Duke and Gigante, both grow to 5 inches in diameter or more.

*The purple varieties have the same cream colored flesh as the other varieties.

Purple Vienna Kohlrabi with other veggies freshly picked from my garden.
Purple Vienna Kohlrabi with other veggies freshly picked from my garden. | Source

How to Prepare Kohlrabi

Despite it being in the brassica family, Kohlrabi is a very versatile vegetable because of it's mild flavor profile.

Peel the exterior skin with a knife of vegetable peeler. The skins are tough and not eaten.

  • You can use it raw, chopped in salads.
  • The young leaves can be steamed or sautéed like chard or kale with a much less bitter flavor than both.
  • Peel, boil until tender and use as a substitute for mashed potatoes.
  • Use in soups or stews, replacing root vegetables like potatoes.
  • Bake or Roast in the oven with spices and olive oil until golden brown.
  • Pickle or brine with carrots and other vegetables.

Nutritional Information

Vitamin C

*based on 3.5 Oz Serving Size

Quick Recipe for Kohlrabi Slaw

Over the weekend, I made some tacos and wanted something crunchy and healthy to put on top, so I took some left-over Kohlrabi I had on hand and decided to make a slaw with it. It came out great and provided a nice crunch. It was a good substitute for Jicama.

You will need:

  1. 3 or 4 Kohlrabi bulbs, Julienned
  2. 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin and chili powder
  6. 1 large bunch of fresh chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors mingle. Serve as is or add it on top of tacos for an extra crunch!

Was this article helpful?

See results

© 2014 Lisa Roppolo


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)