I like to graze in my garden. Yesterday while pulling weeds, I stopped and ate almost every single flower off a young borage plant growing at the end of a bed of carrots and peas. The flowers are like little blue and pink stars that taste a bit like cucumber. The young leaves can be eaten raw too, though they tend to be a bit hairy. Borage is adored by bees, easy to grow, and is self seeding. Here is what you need to know about growing borage in your edible landscape, garden, or in your orchard:
- Borage is an annual plant native to Syria that self seeds easily and reliably. Seed can be started in trays, but the hardiest plants tend to be those direct seeded. Direct seeding can occur from spring into fall.
- Plants reach maturity in as little as 50 days and grow up to 24 inches (90cm) tall.
- If planting in rows, space 12 inches apart.
- Borage will tolerate most soil types, but will burst with flowers when soil is rich and loose.
- Takes full sun-partial shade, but plants grown in full sun will be more sturdy and less prone to topping over under the weight of the flower heads. In hot climates, it can do well with a little afternoon shade.
- Blooming occurs from spring through summer, especially if flowers are regularly picked. Whole branches can be removed to encourage continuous blooming.
- Borage is high in organic potassium, calcium, and other natural minerals. It is beneficial as a mulch or an addition to the compost pile.
- Grown in an orchard, borage is beneficial because it attracts pollinators and can be slashed as a mulch at the end of the year.
- Companion plants include strawberries, fruit trees, tomatoes and squash.
- Borage is supposed to deter tomato hornworms.
- Flowers can be used as an edible garnish, floated on drinks, or added to salad mixes.
- Flowers have a mild laxative effect.
- Borage oil is high in GLA (gamma-Linoleic-acid) and can be used to treat menstrual cramps, irregular menstruation, inflammation, and skin problems.
To find interesting locally grown produce, such as borage, visit Pick-A-Pepper.com to see what is available near you!
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