Lesser-known cousins to broccoli, kohlrabi and bok choy thrive as the weather gets cooler in the fall. Both crops are coveted for their colorful, shapely stalks and richly verdant leaves that lend crunch and nutrients to slaws, salads, and sides.
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

No one can seem to agree on precisely what to call bok choy—you'll also find it labeled as pak choy and bok choi—but most agree it's the garden star of a stir-fry. It's tasty in its many growth stages: from tiny, tender micro-greens to slightly larger, crunchier baby bok choy and beyond.

Kohlrabi has a bulbous stem with leaves radiating out in all directions—it looks a bit extra-planetary. But that belies its down-to-earth flavor: Think of it as a cross between a crunchy apple and a rooty turnip. It's equally delicious when prepared raw or cooked, and its leaves can easily stand in for kale or collard greens, which makes up for the sometimes small yield that remains after you peel away the thick skin of the plump bulb.

Both crops love rich, well-drained soil and regular watering. The trickiest part of growing them is getting the timing right: They love cool weather and need at least two months when temps range from 60° to 80°. Depending on where you live, the ideal growing times could be spring and fall, or midsummer in cooler climes.

In our Cooking Light Alabama-based garden, the fall crop is planted in late August, or else the plants will wave a white flag, defeated by heat and hungry, hole-punching caterpillars.

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Shanghai Green: This variety of choy is a fast grower preferred at its tender "baby" stage.

Winner: This sweet kohlrabi variety is prized for its resistance to splitting and produces firm 3-inch bulbs.