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This year my husband built two raised beds in our garden and planted them up with flowers. This started as a very structured process and then one day he came home from ALDI with some kind of bee-friendly wild flower seed mix and sprinkled it around. What we didn't realise was that it contained a lot of Borage seeds and they went absolutely crazy, pretty much overwhelming everything else in the bed.
I didn't realise this is what they were until I just spotted the photo here on Dooyoo and put two and two together. Obviously not knowing what it was, we didn't attempt to use it for any of its culinary or medicinal purposes. We valued it only for its little blue flowers and their striking appeal to the bumble bees who live in our garden. At any time of the day, dozens of bumbles were busily working their way through the borage flowers.
Our plants were easily a meter high and spread really wide, putting a lot of much more expensive and delicate plants in the dark. The hollow borage stems grew thick and their prickly hairs tended to irritate my skin. Once the bees had had a very good feed, I started pulling up the borage to give the other plants a chance to get some sunshing.
Would I plant this again? Probably not intentionally. It was just too invasive and I'd rather find other food for the bees and give more plants a chance. However, I've read that they are self seeding so I suspect that whether I want them or not, they'll be back to visit again next year.
Borage is a wonderful herb with many different uses. Once it is planted it tends to go quite wild but it will not last during the winter. If you want to keep your Borage happy you should bring it indoors to prevent the frost killing it.
As far as plants go it is easy to grow and look after. The plants can grow quite tall so it is best to plant is against as wall or position the pot against something so that the wind cannot knock it down. You can grow Borage straight from seed and grow seedlings before transferring outside or sow directly into fertilised soil.
What does it look like
Borage is leafy with beautiful delicate blue flowers. The flowers are pretty with five little triangle shaped petals. The leaves of the plant have a furry quality and seem to be covered in little white hairs. The plant can grow to 60 cm tall.
What can it be used for
Fresh Borage contains essential oils and vitamins. It can be ingested and as a herb it has diuretic and slightly laxative properties and has anti-inflammatory effects. It is said to strengthen the nervous system. Freshly pressed juice of the plant is believed to reduce spring fatigue, by accelerating the metabolism and thus acting as a general pick-me-up.
The oil in the plants is often used in herbal remedies and used as a GLA supplement (gamma-linolenic acid)
The plant can also be used as a vegetable. It has a succulent cucumber like taste and makes a perfect accompaniment in a fresh salad. You can also use the leaves in Pimms; the brand used to use Borage before they swapped to Mint and Cucumber.
This packet of seeds costs £2.29 from garden centres. It is easy to grow and care for and in the packet you get 400 seeds so it should last you quite a long time!
Boarage is really easy to grow and it is very beautiful, it spreads making it really good for a rockery but the downside is that it die in the cold weather. The plant tastes really wonderful, just like cucumber but less watery. It is delicious in salads. I like the fact it has all these healing properties too. It is stable addition in my garden and I look forward to eating the leaves over the summer.
Borage is a fantastic self seeding herb with beautiful blue flowers. It may be used as a "pot herb" ie added in reasonable bulk to savory dishes, mixed with spinach, and when chopped finely, added to salads or sandwiches. It is quite hairy but these hairs are not irritating to the mouth. The flavour of borage is similar to cucumber, and pea and borage soup is a classic combination! The flowers may be picked individually and frozen into ice cubes, they look very pretty in drinks.
Borage is easy to grow, and will almost certainly grow again from self sown seedlings if it has grown well the previous year. They prefer light sandy soil and plenty of sunshine. Bees love it, and make a delicious honey from its nectar, while also encouraging pollination of neighbouring plants.
As a medicinal herb borage is said to "cheer the hard student", and is useful in reducing fevers. Make a tea of a handful of chopped leaves with 1 pint of water and simmer for a few minutes before straining and drinking a glassful from time to time in moderation.
Borage originates from Central and Eastern Europe, where it grows in the wilds. Borage plants can grow up to eighteen inches in height about twelve inches in spread, and can be planted directly into the garden into rich soil. They prefer a sunny position, and because of their height and structure, they need to be well protected from the wind. However, do bear in mind that they are not hardy, therefore, must be removed to cover before the first frost. I advise that you keep a plant on your kitchen windowsill for use during the winter months. Borage can also be sown from seed directly into the grown, in its final growing position – there will be no need to take cuttings as once it is established, it will seed itself. They are good grown near to your tomato plants as they help enhance their flavour! Borage’s flowers are generally bright blue in colour and star-shaped and they continue to bloom throughout the summer months. However, sometimes the young flowers are pink before turning blue. Borage has many culinary uses; for instance, the blue flowers are sometimes used as food colouring and also candied for cake decorating. The young leaves can be used in salads and in homemade lemonade or as a garnish for Pimms – this is because of their refreshing flavour, not dissimilar to fresh cucumber. I set the flowers into ice cubes for garnishing drinks – these look very impressive. Chopped leaves can be added to casseroles and soups just before the end of cooking, and the leaves are great cooked with cabbage (one part Borage to two parts cabbage). In summary, Borage makes an excellent addition to the herb garden, its blue flowers not only attract the bees and butterflies to my garden but both the flowers and leaves useful as a vegetable for salads and drinks.