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This variant of the cabbage family seems to have evolved in Central Europe in the Middle ages. The name comes from German and means “cabbage turnip”, and most of the named varieties seem to have originated in Germany or Austria.

This is an unusual vegetable with the edible swollen stem growing above the ground with the cabbage shaped leaves sticking out all round. While not widely grown in the UK, it is still a useful vegetable with a mild turnip-like taste which can be grated and eaten raw in salads or cooked. The swollen stem comes in purple and green forms, and should be eaten when the swollen stem is tender and no bigger than a tennis ball.

Sow the seeds 1 cm deep and 30 cm apart in a drill in fertile ground in the Spring. For the earliest sowings, cover with cloches. Keep the seedlings moist, protect from slugs and snails and cabbage whites. Sow just a few in succession for tender roots.

Harvest as necessary

Pests and diseases. In particular, keep an eye out for slugs, snails, cabbage white caterpillars. They can fall victim to any of the diseases that affect Brassicas.

Storage. The roots will keep for a week or two in the fridge crispator.


Green or White Vienna. An early maturing variety with white flesh and green skin.

Purple Vienna. A more hardy variety suitable for late sowing and harvest into early Winter. It has white flesh and purple skin.

Purple Delicacy. A more vibrant coloured form.

KOHL  RABI  (Brassica oleracia, Gongylodes group)