Borage is one of those plants many of us have heard of but few of us have grown or tasted. Given the optimum conditions, borage officinalis can grow to 90cm in height producing a proliferation of large, hairy green leaves that taste a bit like melons.
Borage sends up a central stalk that multiplies into many bluish-purple flowers that bees love and that can also be eaten.
Borage officinalis is easy to propagate from seed and doesn’t tend to be fussy on seasonality.
Fill small pots (such as 50mm tube stock pots) with a well draining seed raising mix and some organic fertiliser to the top. Water the mix and check it for hydrophobia.
Bury one borage seed per pot approximately 5mm deep and cover them with the mix and water them in. Place pots in a sunny and humid position. Keep them well watered but not wet. They can develop a root rot if overwatered.
Borage usually germinated within 7 days and grows quickly so will be ready for transplantation within 2-3 weeks.
Borage will grow best in a fertile, moist and well draining soil in a full sun or filtered sun position. A hot sun will dehydrate and stress borage so I plant my borage where it gets summer afternoon shade under the shade cloth. Borage does take up water quickly so a heat stressed plant is easily satiated with some root zone watering.
For more information on cultivating organic plants, read my blog called: How to grow organic plants using organic methods.
Borage leaves taste best prior to flowering. Once flowering has commenced, the leaves get a slightly bitter taste. Therefore, I use borage leaves in salads prior to flowering and I leave the flowers for the bees. The leaves are said to have a calming effect and can also be used in teas.
Borage will self-seed very readily and so once you have borage in your garden, you’re unlikely to need to buy seed ever again.