An unusual-sounding name for an unusual-looking but very tasty vegetable. The plant looks like a turnip with cabbage leaves sprouting out of it here and there – hence its other name of turnip-rooted cabbage. But the cabbage has no heart. Though the young leaves may be cooked and eaten, it is the bulbous part (which sits on top of the ground) which constitutes the crop. In the kitchen this is dealt with turnip fashion, and its great value lies in the fact that kohl-rabi will succeed in light, dry soil in which summer turnips persistently fail.
Drought does not affect it, any more than does winter frost. But it grows best in good soil, and the tenderest bulbs are secured when water is given in dry summer.
The large-growing varieties of kohl-rabi grown for cattle feeding are not for garden or allotment. The home food producer should make his choice from the varieties Earliest White, Earliest Purple and Short-top Green.
Only a small packet of seed will be required; there are about 1,000 plants in an ounce. Germination takes about nine days.
Ready for Use.
From July to March, according to sowing date.
This crop is worth digging deeply for. Rotted green refuse should be mixed in freely, especially at the foot-depth level; and plenty of wood ash, or 2 ounces superphosphate of lime per square yard, raked or forked into the dug surface, will give excellent results.
When and How to Sow.
For a summer crop seed is sown in March, April or May – a small sowing each month securing a very useful succession of plants. For autumn and winter crops, seed is sown in late July. Drills should be ½ in. deep and 18 in. apart.
If all space is otherwise occupied, the early sowings may be made on a moist seed bed; seedlings are thinned out to about 3 in. apart, and lifted carefully with a trowel (from moist ground) and planted out before they become crowded. They must be watered in generously at once, in the absence of rain.
Thinning Out, Planting Out.
Plants should stand finally at 10 in. apart in the row; rows to be 18 in. apart. Deep planting of the seedlings is to be avoided; reasonably shallow planting allows the stem bases to swell without hindrance.
Watering and Hoeing.
If water is scarce, kohl-rabi can get along without it better than most crops. But it will be the better for whatever water can be spared in the driest weather. After rain, and watering, work the surface finely with the hoe. Soil must not be worked up over the swelling stems; rather draw soil away from bases.
Gathering the Crop.
The bulbs are in finest eating condition when the size of a cricket ball; if larger, they are likely to be tough. Plants are pulled up as wanted for use, and the bulbs taken to the kitchen.
Storing for Winter.
Though hardy enough to be left in the ground all winter, it may happen that the space occupied is wanted for digging. In this case the entire crop may be gathered when the bulbs are large enough – in October or November – and stored in sifted ashes in a cellar or shed; any worth-while leaves being removed for cooking as a separate vegetable. Preparing for Table.
The bulbs are washed, peeled, and then dealt with in the manner of turnips. Young leaves are boiled like cabbage. In the matter of food value, kohl-rabi is as nutritious as it is palatable.