when-to-pick-kohlrabi

When to Pick Kohlrabi

It's easy to let things sit in the garden until they are past maturity and not as delicious. They look great out there, the fruits are just getting bigger, and harvesting is a chore. But, letting your vegetables get over mature doesn't do you any favors in the kitchen. Gardeners often put off harvesting Kohlrabi until its flavor has declined. Younger stems are sweeter and softer than older stems.

Leaf Harvesting

Kohlrabi greens are edible, nutritious, and as delicious as collards or kale. Part of the same family of power greens, don’t wait to harvest from your plants until the stems get large. You can harvest leaves as soon as they pop out of the ground, or when they reach a desirable size. Avoid over-harvesting because a lack of leaves may stunt stem growth, but taking up to 1/3 of the foliage won’t hurt the plant.

When you harvest your stems for storage, don’t waste the leaves that you cut off. They can be blanched and added to salads or steamed as a nutritious side dish.

Stem Harvest

Kohlrabi stems start to bulb out within weeks of sprouting. This fast-growing turnip-like stem is ready to harvest when it reaches 2-3 inches in diameter. Simply cut the bulb off with a sharp knife at the base. The plant is done and won’t produce anymore so you can pull them out and plant your next patch of Kohlrabi.

Store the bulbs in plastic in a cool location after trimming off all of the leaves and stalks. You can continue to harvest bulbs as they grow until they become tough and woody. Some may reach sizes of 8-10 inches before turning woody, a lot depends on the variety. Even older bulbs that may be woody on the outside could have some delicate texture on the inside.

Kohlrabi varieties are divided by their color and their days to maturity. They come in green, white, and purple varieties that take anywhere from 45 to 100 days to mature. Here are a few popular varieties and their characteristics:

  • Gigante – Czechoslovakian heirloom with huge white bulbs that don’t go woody. (130 days)
  • Kossak – Large tender green bulbs that store well. Hybrid (80 days)
  • Kolibri – Fast maturing purple variety with small tasty bulbs. Hybrid (45 days)
  • Peking Strain – Green to white bulbs medium sized. Frost resistant open-pollinated (65 days)
  • Rapid Star – Bolt resistant, medium-sized purple skinned bulbs. Hybrid (45 days)(

Successional Harvest

With many fast-growing vegetables, it doesn’t always make sense to have all your plants come into maturity once or twice a year. Instead, consider staggering your plantings every two weeks throughout the season. This way you can have fresh Kohlrabi coming into maturity throughout the season. Your kitchen will never run out, and your root cellar or fridge won’t suddenly be inundated with kohlrabi harvest.