Seed of the Day :: Borage
Borage (Borago officinalis) is a culinary and medicinal herb native to the Mediterranean, which means (in most cases) it’s well suited for Central Texas.
Size: 2-3 feet H x 1-2 feet W
When to plant: Early Spring-Early Summer (Feb-April for Central TX)
How to plant: Borage grows best if direct seeded. Surface sow the seeds and cover lightly with soil. Keep well watered. While borage is can grow in poor dry soil, a sunny location with rich, well draining soil is optimal. When seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, thin to 12 inches spacing.
Square foot spacing: 1 plant per square foot.
Harvesting: Remove leaves and flowers as needed. Mature leaves will grow spines, so harvesting the leaves young in preferred.
Culinary use: All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves have a cucumber-like flavor, and are wonderful in salads and soup. The flowers are slightly sweet with a honey-like flavor and are often used for garnish on desserts, and is the traditional garnish for a Pimms Cup cocktail. These flowers are one of the very few, truly blue edibles.
Medicinal use: Traditionally used in hyperactive gastrointestinal, respiratory, cardiovascular, and mood disorders. Borage seed oil contains a high amount of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Also known to help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system. Borage flower might have an antioxidant effect.
Companion planting: Borage is a rockstar in the garden. It’s an excellent companion for tomatoes, squash, strawberries and most plants. In particular, it will improve flavor and increase yields of strawberries. The leaves are mineral rich, and will benefit any plant growing next to it by increasing resistance to pest and disease. These leaves also make a fantastic mulch that will feed your garden as it breaks down.
Pollinator power: Borage’s beautiful blue star-shaped flowers are a favorite of bees and wasps. It is hands-down one of the best plants for benefiting and attracting much needed pollinators.
Special notes: Borage is a hardy annual that reseeds itself very well – a little too well. In order to minimize unwanted volunteers, we recommended planting in containers or removing the plant/flowers before it goes to seed. However, it is very easy to remove unwanted borage volunteers – it’s not invasive. Finally, in order to keep those beautiful blue blooms going, feed borage a healthy dose of phosphorus.
University of Maryland Medical Center: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/gamma-linolenic-000305.htm
Ashworth, Suzanne & Whealy, Kent; Seed to Seed: Seed Saving Techniques for the Vegetable Gardener, Seed Savers Exchange, 2002.