"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gone To Seed

Due to the dramatic fluctuations in temperature this spring a few of our biennial plants have bolted prematurely this year, fortunately it has only been a few. This has allowed me the opportunity to watch a purple kohlrabi attempt to form a seed head, a first in our garden as I have never really tried to save seed from this type of brassica before. I thought it had a most interesting flower. The rest of our summer kohlrabi are forming nice little bulbs and those for winter storage were just planted this past week.

This is easily one of our favorite vegetables, nothing beats the flavor of fresh, raw kohlrabi grated over a summer salad. They store remarkably well and can be used for forced greens as well as the bulb in the winter months.


randi said...

glad you posted this, I'm trying to grow a few kohlrabi for the first time and am pretty clueless...as ever, you're timing is impeccable!

el said...

The first winter I had a greenhouse I mistakenly planted some purple kohlrabi in a bed. I say "mistakenly" because it was October and any brassica that gets hit with the cold will bolt, and these did. However, we ate the greens and blossoms all winter so it wasn't a loss at all!

Kohlrabi and fennel are two plants I wait until July to plant. I've just found all varieties of kohlrabi get too tough and bitter as spring-planted seeds, and fennel bolts too quickly. Both seem to appreciate a cool fall to bulb up, though!

But I agree with you Mike: I love them fresh, either chopped or grated.

Silke said...

Mike, you are giving me yet another trip down memory lane... While we never had raw kohlrabi growing up, we very often ate it as a cooked vegetables. My favorite of all was when my mom would cut it into little matchsticks and then prepare it with a light cream sauce. Every time I could have eaten the whole bowl by myself! I've often regretted that I never found out how my mother prepared some of my favorite dishes... Your Kohlrabi look delicious! Enjoy them! :) Silke

Stefaneener said...

For some reason, I thought this was a comment on us all aging. The weather has been all over the place here. Thanks for the reminder, and el, I'm going to copy you and seed some very soon.

Mr. H said...


I think you will really like them. They tastes best, to me, when they are about the size of a baseball or even a bit smaller. For the best flavor keep them well watered, and they will do ok in both full sun as well as partial. The slugs love them too.:)

Mr. H said...

Hello El,

I have never had a kohlrabi bolt before this one, actually two kohlrabi and a few broccoli bolted. Strange weather this year, but for the most part good for gardening. I agree that the greens themselves are very palatable. We sometimes save the big tough plants just for winter forcing.

I gave up trying to grow fennel for its bulb a couple years ago. They always go to seed on me and the one year that a few looked promising the voles got to them first. We do grow fennel for the flowers though. I find it to be one of the best beneficial insect attractants, fennel and dill... I love dill.

Mr. H said...


Can you believe I have never tried kohlrabi cooked, perhaps I should. You make it sound very good that way.

Thank you for the site links. I found that I can use Google translator to decipher the language and really liked the first and last blog you listed.

Mr. H said...


The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

- J.R.R. Tolkien

el said...

Mike, I need to send you some angelica seed if you're looking to attract pollinators. Last year at one instant I counted something like 28 different insects on the flowers, just buzzing away happily. Fennel is a great plant for swallowtail butterflies, and I do grow some just for them...or rather I expect to share some of my crop with them. Actually all umbelliferae are fab for bugs. You should see the creatures on my 8' tall parsnips now! woot!

Mr. H said...


That would be great, I have been looking for those kind of flowers and herbs to plant in amongst the veggies.

Most of my seeds for this year are still in the flowering or podding stage. Set some angelica aside for me and we will do a seed swap around the end of August if you like. I should have them all dry and ready for storage at that time. Thanks for the offer!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Mike, I wouldn't be in too big a hurry to save seeds from a biennial plant that has bolted early. That is a sign that the original seed crop wasn't rogued properly, meaning the undesirable traits, like early bolting weren't "weeded" out. If you do save the seeds you will be passing on the trait of early bolting. If that is what you want instead of the delicious bulb, then it is fine to save the seeds.

Mr. H said...

Throwback at Trapper Creek,

You are right, and I am not going to save the seeds off it. I actually cut it off the morning it flowered as I am trying to get some umpqua broccoli to seed for me and have no interest in a cross between the two. Mostly I was surprised to see the kohlrabi bolt. This has never been an issue before.

I suppose it was due to the temperature fluctuating so dramatically this spring, normally we have much cooler weather. This year it went from cold to the mid 80's, back to the low 30's, and then hot again with very little rain until recently.

I like the umpqua because it forms heads so quickly for me and having started the seedlings in January I was able to get nice sized heads that are just beginning to flower. I have had very limited success overwintering other broccoli plants for seed purposes. I have tried keeping them panted in containers in the root cellar and leaving them well mulched in the garden, in both cases they seem to fade off and die around February.

I must say though, the flowering head of the purple kohlrabi was every bit as tasty as a broccoli. Maybe this year, if my later crop looks good, I will try and hold some over for seed.


We have been making the delicious rhubarb bars you wrote about.. they are so good. Thanks.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Umpqua is a great broccoli, have you tried overwintering kale for broccoli type shoots in the spring? I still have some going from a July '08 planting.

Mr. H said...

Throwback at Trapper Creek,

You know, I always let some Russian or curled kale go to seed in the spring but have never thought of eating the shoots. What a great idea, I will try that next year. That way I can keep more then one variety around. One for seed, and if I'm careful not to let them flower, one for little sprigs.

eag said...

Should be very successful, they save well!

Anonymous said...

I have various plants that are doing the same already. It is a flashback to last summer and it sucks.

Mr. H said...


Yes, some years it is really bad for usas well. A lot of wasted effort goes into bolting broccoli sometimes.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Kohl rabi have pretty looking flowers. I am growing kohl rabi and Florence Fennel for first time this fall. I wonder if both veggie can be grown by transplanting or must it be direct sowing? I really admire your farm.

Mr. H. said...

Hi Diana - Both vegetables transplant really well, you can treat kohlrabi just like broccoli or cabbage. We have been growing kohlrabi for about 5 years now and really love it...we still struggle to get decent sized fennel though. I look forward to seeing yours growing and to hear what you think about both plants. Isn't growing ones own food great.:)

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Thanks. We don't have much space for direct sowing as summer vegetables are still producing. It will be really good to sow them now for an early start.

Chase said...


Related Posts with Thumbnails