One look at the beautiful star-shaped wedgewood blue flowers with prominent black anthers and you’ll know why borage is one of the most represented culinary herbs in tapestries, needle point, ceramic painting and photography.
The blue star-shaped flowers earn this plant a spot in any flower garden. Their pollen is particularly sweet and filled with nectar making them a magnet to bees. In some places it’s called ‘bee bread’. Just what you want in your vegetable garden.
The flowers are edible and high in anti-oxidants. I like to eat them right in the garden. They make beautiful decorations for cakes and summer drinks. Try freezing them in ice cubes and serving with your favorite iced drink.
A native Mediterranean plant, borage has a long history as an edible green. In addition to being used as a cooked green, it is popular fresh as a salad herb. Its cucumber-like taste makes it perfect in a salad. It benefits your health as well as your taste buds with leaves rich in calcium, potassium and mineral salts and Vitamin C.
For salads, pick the leaves when they’re young to avoid the prickly hairs. Or chop them well. If you’re harvesting for a cooked greens dish, the prickly hairs will disappear in cooking.
Medicinal qualities have been attributed to borage since ancient times. It’s used in a variety of remedies by modern herbalists.
Easy to grow.
I started seeds in a flat this spring and then transplanted seedlings to 3 inch pots. The ones I transplanted to the garden before the roots reached the outer area of the pot did great. The few I tried to hold in the small pots didn’t like it. Their leaves faded and even after I transplanted them to the garden they didn’t want to grow.
Sowing the seed directly to the spot you want it to grow is probably the easiest way.
Seeds can be surface sown in fall for bloom the following May; or sow in March for bloom in June. Borage will grow in deficient soils, but is bushier in rich soils. It will self sow and spread.
Being a bee magnet is reason enough to grow this plant if you don’t already have it. But if you make the most of what Borage offers —like flowers that add beauty and good taste to food presentation and leaves that are healthful and delicious — it’ll add a lot to your garden and kitchen experience.
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