Monday, July 13, 2015

Win Some, Lose Some....

Last week I harvested the first two kohlrabis of the year from our home garden, both the variety 'Delicacy White.'
The two plants were virtually identical when planted side by side, about 10 inches apart, in some of my best soil but with no amendments besides last year's compost. The one on the left is the only one that split; all the others are gorgeous, ranging from about 2 to 3.5 inches in diameter, tender, and sweet! I've read that uneven watering is the main reason some kohlrabis split, but I figure this one was just trying to teach me a lesson: that plants will do as they choose.

I quartered and peeled them, although the outer portion near the top of the 'pretty' one was so tender that I could have left some of it in place. The center of the lower stem area was fibrous and tough, so a small portion had to be removed. Kohlrabi greens are also quite edible, excellent in soups and stir fries, with a pleasant, mild flavor and soft texture not too different from my favorite kale variety, Red Russian (a variety of Brassica napus, species that includes rutabaga and rape, versus Brassica oleracea, which includes cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and others). We enjoyed our first kohlrabi harvest in a simple mixed green salad. This week, I'll combine it with some other vegetables (mainly root crops) and try it roasted with garlic infused olive oil and a dash of my favorite balsamic vinegar.

In our 'demonstration' garden at the Historic Barns Park, though, we've only 'demonstrated' what can happen to kohlrabi and others of the Brassicaceae family left unprotected from the local critter population. (We have yet to identify the culprit.) Here are representative portions of what's left of our radish and mixed Brassica beds after some unknown invader did some premature harvesting. Two small kohlrabis survived the onslaught. Next year, we'll install some easily removable critter-resistant barriers around our most vulnerable growing beds.
And that's gardening!  We win a lot more than we lose, and when we lose, we learn; and that's a win in itself.

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