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