This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.
I love to experiment and try new varieties in the garden. Some are duds, some are merely mediocre, but occasionally I discover something really outstanding. Today’s Spotlight is on a variety of open-pollinated kale that I think is pretty extraordinary. It’s called White Russian, and it was bred by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds. This is my second year growing it, and it has quickly become one of my favorites.
White Russian looks like a white-ribbed version of Red Russian kale. That’s no accident, since Red Russian is one of its ancestors. White Russian is a selection from the Wild Garden Seeds gene pool that resulted from a cross between the Brassica napus ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Siberian’ kales back in 1984. That gene pool is sold as the Wild Garden Kale Mix, and I did a variety spotlight on it last fall. Unlike the mix however, the plants of White Russian are uniform in size and shape. Compared to its parents, the leaves seem to be more like Red Russian, and are flatter and less frilly than Siberian.
In the garden, White Russian has been easy to grow for me, and has done well in both spring and fall plantings. Our last winter here was about normal in terms of temperatures and snowfall, and half of my White Russian plants survived unprotected in the main garden area. Mind you, they look a little rough around the edges, but they are alive and making new growth. I planted another group last November that was protected by a cold frame, and you can see in the below photo it was unfazed by our cold winter weather. It gets about two feet tall at maturity, and the plants are tolerant of both cold temperatures and wet soils, which pretty much describes our winters here!
But it’s in the kitchen where I think White Russian really shines. High Mowing Seeds listing says it was “voted the best-tasting in our taste tests”, and my wife and I have been giving it two-thumbs up every time we eat it. Like most kale, it’s the sweetest in cold weather, but last year my spring planting matured after the weather turned hot and the flavor stayed mild even then. It’s even better tasting after a few frosts or freezes.
I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a kale that is a real survivor in my garden and a favorite in the Happy Acres kitchen. Seeds for White Russian kale are available from a number of sources in the U.S. including Wild Garden Seeds, Territorial Seed and High Mowing Seeds. I’ll be back soon with another variety.