Borage (Borago offcinalis), an annual herb, is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It does not need a lot of water. Grows happily in poor soil, and just needs a sunny spot to seed itself. Coming up year after year.
The seed germinate so easily that it can be sown in any season in mild climates. In very cold areas it is best to sow in spring.
For the best results choose a sunny spot that is sheltered from strong winds, as the soft main stems break easily.
Dig the soil well over and add a generous amount of compost or manure.
Either buy young potted Borage plants from your local garden center or sow seeds 30cm to 50cm apart in shallow drills. Water well till the plants are established or the seeds germinate. Then water only when dry.
Feed once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer at half the recommended rate.
Young leaves and the flowers may be used fresh at any time of the year. Older leaves can also be used, but they are too hairy for most palates and need to be chopped very fine.
Drying the leaves and flowers is possible, but it is usually not worth the effort. Freeze the lovely blue flowers by carefully putting them, one by one, in ice cube trays and gently covering them with water. When needed pop a flowery ice cube into a glass of white wine, fruit juice or any other beverage.
Borage is an outstanding companion plant and mulch for most plants, being an excellent source of minerals, especially calcium and potassium. In particular, borage and strawberries help each other and strawberry farmers always set a few plants in their beds to enhance the fruits flavour and yield.
Borage is also a good companion for tomatoes – both seem to improve in growth and disease resistance when planted near each other.
Bees love the flowers, yielding an excellent honey.
If the Borage begins to take over your herb garden it is easy to thin out by pulling the plants out by hand. The shallow roots dislodge easily. Remember that the stalks are prickly. So you may need to wear garden gloves.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2007 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.