Saturday Spotlight: Red Ursa Kale

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’.

harvest of Red Ursa kale

harvest of ‘Red Ursa’ kale

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.

Red Ursa kale growing in cold frame bed

‘Red Ursa’ kale growing in cold frame bed

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!

closeup of Red Ursa plant

closeup of ‘Red Ursa’ kale plant

‘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.

Red Ursa kale leaf

‘Red Ursa’ kale leaf

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.

This entry was posted in Saturday Spotlight and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Saturday Spotlight: Red Ursa Kale

  1. Daphne says:

    I love kale. Right now mine is starting to flower. I think on Monday it might be big enough to pick. Not your variety though. I’ve found the dwarf ones do better here as they survive if we have massive snow. And they can handle the cold if we don’t get snow too.

  2. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight (on Sunday) – Tigerella Tomato | Suburban Tomato

  3. Liz says:

    I am a relatively new kale lover so I have only attempted a couple of varieties; Russian red and Cavolo Nero which I presuming in Lacinato (or something very similar). Our seed varieties tend to be more generic than yours in the US. Sometimes you can even buy seeds called ‘kale’ or worse still ‘tomato’ so you have absolutely no idea what you are growing at all. I love that you have so many different varieties of everything.

  4. Michelle says:

    I am a long time kale lover and grower and have never heard of Red Ursa. It sure sounds like a winner. Tasty and bolt resistant, and I like that it isn’t too frilly which means that there are fewer places for the aphids to proliferate. All of my overwintered kales have long since bolted and hit the compost bin, even the Lark’s Tongue kale that was reputed to be so bolt resistant in mild climates that it might grow a couple years or more. I may have to give Red Ursa a try.

    • Dave says:

      I will definitely post when this variety flowers. I don’t know if the late planting has delayed flowering any or not. I wouldn’t think so, but who knows? I also had ‘Purple Peacock’ planted last fall and the rabbits ate it too. I will try it again this fall along with the ‘Red Ursa’.

  5. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight – Finger Limes | Suburban Tomato

  6. Pingback: Wanted: Good Home for Seeds | Our Happy Acres

Thanks for leaving a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.