Post last updated: February 4th, 2019

I started my Fall and Winter vegetable garden with the usual straight rows and little wooden markers to identify what was planted in the rows.  I don’t know what got into me but at some point, I stopped using the little wooden markers. I promised myself that I would remember what I had planted where. I failed to remember that my memory isn’t worth squat.

Besides, I had been growing veggies for five years and didn’t think it would be any big deal. This far into the venture, I figured I knew how all my veggies looked when they first sprouted. I failed to consider that one of the lovely ladies at Mandarin Garden Center had shared with me some of her new fall seeds, some of which I had never ever grown. One of her little envelopes held a Mesclun Mix which is an assortment of young salad leaves.

Right smack dab in the middle of the Mesclun Mix something weird was growing. It had pinkish-purple stems and gray-green leaves that appeared to be the victim of an attack by an otherworldly set of pinking shears. Most bizarre of all, it had little tiny leaves growing out of and on top of the leaves. Not by any stretch of the imagination, whether or not you were smoking Lion’s Tail, could this possibly be a “young salad leaf.”

I began to consult all the familiar seed company catalogs to find out just WHAT was included in Mesclun Mix. All kinds of stuff. Arugula, chervil, dandelion, endive, frisee, lettuces, mache, mizuna, radicchio, sorrel, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens were some of the possibilities. I looked up all the ones I didn’t recognize but my alien plant was not among the photos.

Unconcerned, I began to use it as one of the many leaves that went into my homemade chow mein and found it to be completely unobjectionable compared to that arugula that was growing among the Mesclun Mix.

Then Lam, who you will remember from Chickens, happened to give me a seed catalog for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Among its pages I found the alien – Red Russian Kale. Wellllll. I had planted two different kinds of kale for the first time ever and I’m guessing one of our rain storms washed it over to the Mesclun Mix.

I have photographed a few of the leaves from every angle so that you can see those tiny leaves growing out of the top of leaf. I figured you’d like to enjoy the weirdness with me.


Red Russian Kale leaf
Red Russian Kale


Red Russian Kale
Red Russian Kale

Red Russian Kale-1979

25 thoughts on “WHAT IS THAT?”

  1. I am like you. Think I will remember what it was that I planted. Then I am stumped when it starts to grow.
    Anyway, that leaf is very pretty to look at and I am glad that it has a good taste as well.

    1. Happy birthday to meeeeeeeee! Let’s see. I’ve got turnip greens out there because I like the greens but not the roots. Radishes, radicchio, 3 kinds of cabbage, volunteer cukes (had just started to bloom) and tomato plants that are probably ruined after the freeze, salad bowl lettuce, a few broccoli (I’ve replanted and replanted), vidalia onions, a few red burgundy onions (seeds were old), red mustard, and bok choy. There were a few of Susan’s envelopes that I passed on to other friends.

  2. Very interesting!! Winter gardens are fun. I always feel like a wee forest folk gathering food to cook over the fire in my cozy cottage…but that’s just me.
    Kale is so good for you and this variety, what a delight!!!

        1. Betty – Search “ways to cook kale.” A lot of stuff came up. Also search “types of cooking greens.” As a gardener, you really should try a little garden patch. Maybe one of those raised square foot beds. My winter garden is much smaller than my spring garden – about a third smaller – and I’m growing so many greens to eat. Somewhere on this blog I’ve got a “starter” gardening article about taking grocery store green onions, using the tops and planting the bulb (if it has a few roots on it). Don’t even need a garden patch for the onions. It can be done in pots. Thanks for subscribing. 🙂

  3. From what I am reading and and hearing, Kale has become the “in” veggie here in the south. It is touted as being great in salads, cooked and in shakes or juiced. I, however have not ventured to try it except cooked. If I were really hungry and it was all I had to go with my much loved cornbread, I’d maybe cook it again.

    1. You didn’t like it? I’ll admit to cooking it with lots of other greens but nothing stood out as an overwhelming flavor so I have to assume it is no stronger than cabbage. I tried growing and eating collards but they were a tad strong. All that stuff about it being the “in” veggie is the only reason I grew it and ate it. After years of eating what corporate america wanted me to eat, I’m now cooking to cure what ails me.

  4. Why oh why would you ever think you could remember what you planted? You suffer from CRS and are lucky to remember you even have a garden to tend too, let alone remember what is in the garden without markers.

      1. Point taken on believing in the impossible, but there are some things you should know will never happen and you remembering anything is one of those things that will never happen even with divine intervention.

  5. Who grows mutant kale? I’ve never heard of it and never ever ever laid eyes on it until you started growing it on the property. Again sista, I say, “Only you.”

  6. I grew Russian Kale last winter… It was the best greens ever! Tasted like I’d dumped a cuppa sugar in the pot!
    This winter… I have raccoons digging everything up… and I’m not having any luck catching them… Must be some city slicker’s catch and release. 🙁 Therefore… No winter greens at my house.

    1. Stone – You have all my empathy and sympathy on the raccoons. It is SO discouraging to plant seed and have the critters beat us to it. Sometimes I think it makes sense to build a chicken coop around the garden. The bees could still get through and it would keep the 4-legged critters — even the cats — out. Thanks for posting Meta’s flower to All Things Plants. Hopefully, we’ll get her a name.

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