So far I have spotlighted several varieties of vegetables that I have grown for years. This time I want to talk about one that I am growing for the first time: ‘Red Ursa’ Kale. Though this variety was selected in 1997 as one of the 5 Best New Vegetable Introductions in the U.S. National Gardening Trials, it is just now showing up on my radar screen, and in the listings of many seed catalogs. Bred by seedsman Frank Morton, this open-pollinated variety combines the frills of ‘Siberian’ kale with the color of ‘Red Russian’.
I planted this variety last fall in the main garden area, but my seedlings got eaten up by a rabbit that had taken up residence inside the supposedly secure fencing. Fortunately I had some late started plants as well, and set them out in one of the cold frame beds next to the greenhouse, where they would hopefully be protected from all the munching critters. Since I was growing them not only for the leaves but for the flowers once they appear, I jammed 12 of them into a fairly small space about 2 feet by 4 feet. It was late November when I finally got them planted, so they didn’t make much growth before cold weather set in.
They overwintered nicely in the protected environment of the cold frame, and really took off once warmer weather finally got here, giving us a bit more kale to enjoy before summer comes and other veggies take over from the greens of winter and spring. I will be growing this one again in fall for sure. I will put it to the test in the main garden again, and see how it compares with my other favorite kale varieties like ‘Lacinato’ and ‘Beedy’s Camden’. Like it’s ‘Siberian’ parent, ‘Red Ursa’ is supposed to be late to bolt to flower in spring. It’s almost May, and there are no signs of flowers yet!
‘Red Ursa’ was selected to be tender and tasty both raw and cooked. My favorite treatment for kale is to braise the leaves in a tiny amount of water, until just wilted down but still bright green. The ‘Red Ursa’ is tender and mild tasting cooked this way. The raw leaves and stems are mild and tender even when they get large. That makes this kale a winner in the kitchen, and the garden as far as I am concerned.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!
To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.