Kohlrabi ‘Kolibri’

You know that life is on the brink when visions of kohlrabi start invading your daydreams. Yep, desperation has hit that point here. But can you blame me? If there’s anything worse than winter, it’s mud season. I realize that there’s got to be a juncture between several feet of snow and the growing season. But does it have to be this ugly?

So my denial strategy is to immerse myself in kohlrabi fantasies. It works for me. The rest of the world might drool in lust for tomatoes, but members of the cabbage family ring my chimes. Hey, somebody’s got to love them. Guess that role falls to me.

First I’ve got a full disclosure to make here — ‘Kolibri’ is a hybrid. But I’m balancing that demerit against the fact that I crave a constant supply of brassicas (aka cabbage kin) throughout the summer. Growing any kohlrabi sates my hunger for cole crops early in the season. Growing ‘Kolibri’ satisfies that craving throughout the better part of the summer.

Yes, that’s right. This is the true confession of someone who boycotted kohlrabi simply because it came and split (literally) too rapidly. Up until ‘Kolibri’ entered my life, my interaction with kohlrabi was nothing more than a late spring fling. As soon as the weather shifted into steamy, it was history. I moved on to broccoli, and the kohlrabi split asunder. Any orbs that remained intact turned tough, bitter, and virtually indigestible. Not so for ‘Kolibri’. It goes for the long haul.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with kohlrabi, let me give you the crash course. This is one vegetable you’re not likely to encounter in your local supermarket unless your store employs an astute green grocer (remember green grocers?). Unlike most members of the cabbage clan, kohlrabi doesn’t focus on flower buds or foliage. Instead, the delectable part is the stem that swells into a round, baseball-sized knot just above soil level. Okay, it sort of looks like a turnip above ground. The goal is to get a type that doesn’t taste like a turnip.

That’s where ‘Kolibri’ comes in. It has firm (but not woody) creamy flesh with a slightly sweet taste. I use mine as a steamed vegetable, but you could also dice it like celeriac in a fresh salad.

As long as we’re spilling beans, I might as well admit that I originally ordered seed of ‘Kolibri’ on the strength of its color. It complements my ‘Violet Podded Stringless’ pole beans (don’t give me heat about my color insanity, okay?). That said, the intensity of the color didn’t quite match the catalog picture. In my full sun garden, even during a brutally sunny summer, the hue does not blush to deep burgundy. But it is definitely purple. And as advertised, the taste is exceptional. In other words = flavorful, but not a fashionista.

You can find ‘Kolibri’ through Johnny’s Selected Seeds , Territorial Seed Company and John Scheepers .

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