Growing and Harvesting Kohlrabi, Yardlong Beans and White Eggplant
Here are some growing tips and harvesting hints to help maximize the yield of kohlrabi, yardlong-bean and white-eggplant crops.
After the kohlrabi seeds sprout, thin the seedlings so that they are 4" or 5" apart. Mulch to help keep moisture in and weeds down, and water regularly.
You may see cabbage worms on the plants, but you can handpick and remove them. In some climates, small flea beetles may eat holes in the leaves. Since kohlrabi is grown for its edible stem and not for its leaves, a bit of leaf damage is usually nothing to worry about. Where large infestations might be a problem, however, you can keep the intruders at bay by using floating row covers.
To put down a row cover, secure wire hoops down the length of the row, spacing them about 3' or 4' apart. Then stretch a lightweight row cover over the hoops, anchoring both sides of the cover with bricks. Applied early in the season, lightweight fabric covers are a pesticide-free way to keep flea beetles, cabbage-root maggots, caterpillars, leafhoppers and other insects away from your crop. The covers can be easily lifted whenever you need access to the plants.
To harvest them, use a serrated knife to cut them off at the base. You can cut off the leaves and discard them, but don't peel the globe. The skin is supposed to be the tastiest part.
Kohlrabi is delicious raw. Rinse it off, cut it in strips and put the slices into a bowl of lemon juice. After it's marinated for 20 or 30 minutes, it's great to munch on. Kohlrabi is also good cooked, steamed and served with a butter sauce.
Keep the area clear of weeds by hand-pulling them when they first appear. Mulch and water regularly. A month and a half after planting, the vines should reach the top of the tepee, and bean pods will appear. Inspect the beans nearly every day, keeping an eye out for any curled or discolored leaves that might indicate a wilt or fungal disease.
One key to a disease-free garden is never to touch a plant's foliage when it is wet. Diseases easily spread on the film of water that coats wet leaves and stems.
Yardlong Beans Pests
A rounded gold-colored beetle with black spots on its back, it eats the leaves, stems and bean pods. Fortunately, in a home garden there is rarely any need to resort to chemical sprays. Handpicking the beetles off the leaves when you see them will minimize any damage.
Most people like to harvest the beans when the pods reach 12" to 15" long, when they are still young and tender. Check the vines every day or two, harvesting as you go along. Young beans are eaten like green beans and are good steamed, stir-fried or sautéed.
Yardlong Beans Harvesting
When the older pods begin to turn yellow, harvest them and use them as shelling beans. Split the pods open to shell the beans, and cook them as you would any type of dried bean. They taste like black-eyed peas but with a delicious nutty flavor.
Dry Some Beans
Let the pods dry on the vine, turning completely yellow and leathery. Shuck the beans into a basket, and let them air-dry in a warm, dry spot. Place the dried beans in an envelope and set them aside in a cool, dry place until you're ready to plant again next year.
If rainy weather approaches when you're trying to let beans dry on the vine, simply pull up the vines, root and all, and hang them upside down in your garage.
It can be hit hard or killed by frosts, so plant it well after the last frost-free date in your area.
Eggplant grows best when it has constant moisture and the soil is not allowed to dry out between waterings. To keep an eye on the situation, use a moisture meter to monitor the soil. Set the probe of the meter about 6" into the soil to give a good indication of the moisture level at the eggplant's root. Whenever the meter veers towards low, water thoroughly. A moisture meter costs only a few dollars and will save you a lot in the long run, since you won't be tempted to overwater and thus waste time and money.
Tiny flea beetles are a common predator that can zap the vitality of your plants.
Flea beetles are very small, about 1/10" long. Just like the fleas they are named after, they'll jump around when they're disturbed. The adult beetles chew lots of small holes in the leaves of plants and sometimes spread viral diseases as they move from plant to plant. To control flea beetles, you can use row covers just like we did with the kohlrabi, or you can spray with an insecticide recommended by your local extension agent.
To test whether they're ready for harvest, press the skin with your finger. If the spot stays indented and doesn't spring right back, the eggplant is perfect for picking.
Once the eggplant is ready, harvest by cutting the fruit off the plant with garden shears. Since the plants have sharp spines, it's a good idea to wear garden gloves so that you don't get scraped. You can store eggplant in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days before cooking. It's great in ratatouille, sliced and grilled over a fire or made into baba ghanoush, a classic Middle Eastern dish.