Growing Borage

People growing borage often don't look further than adding it to drinks, Pimms No 1 being the classic - but there's much more to it than that.

It has a cucumber aroma and so is great added to salads - it can be used like spinach as a vegetable or added to spinach and cabbage to add a fresh taste.

It is very attractive to bees.


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It's also slightly salty in flavor and so if you're on a salt reduced diet will be very useful.

The fresh blue flowers can be added to salads, candied and used as cake decorations or dried and put in a pot pourri.

Now how useful is that as a herb ;-)

One problem (or benefit, depends on how much you like borage) is that it's an annual plant that self seeds like mad - so you'll have your work cut out keeping your growing borage in the right place.

Borage can grow to about 3 ft(90cm) tall and needs a 2 foot square (60cm) of garden space. It will make do with less, but the plants won't look as healthy.

It has large leaves with a hairy surface.

In a mild winter, it can self seed itself to grow all year as long as it's given enough space.

Remove the old plants as they die off.

Growing borage
Well, the first year you'll have to buy a packet of borage seeds or beg some seedlings from a neighbour - but after that, watch out.

Borage likes a sunny spot with well drained fertile soil.

Sow the seeds from early spring to mid summer about 1 inch (25cm) deep and thin to one plant per 2 ft (60 cm)

Keep well watered and free from weeds - the herb will be ready for use in about 8 weeks or so (a bit longer from an early spring sowing)

Growing borage indoors
Borage will grow from 45 cm (18 inches) upwards - if you want to use it all year round and you have somewhere to keep it then just sow a couple of seeds in a large pot of compost and thin out to the best after germination.

Keep it well watered and you should have borage all year round.

It isn't something I've done personally, but it's possible to grow any plant indoors if you really want to.

Harvesting Borage
Harvest the young leaves as needed and the flowers when they are fully out.

It’s not very suitable for drying at home – the leaves have a tendency to go black – probably because of the high mineral levels and the leaves are very fleshy. You could try microwave drying it though.

Rescue Remedy for Borage
If you're lucky enough to inherit a herb garden, and you find borage growing, then the probability is that it's taken over the garden.

Be ruthless - pull up any plants that are in the wrong place and keep the best plants making sure each has a 2ft (60cm) patch of garden to itself.

Just keep the area free from weed and the plants well watered and everything should go well.

Check out these pages for more herb ideas

› Growing Borage

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