Have you ever planted Borage?
Last spring I planted a bunch of it! I mean a bunch! The little blue flowers attracted me to it. Apparently is attracts something else as well ...bees! I don't mind actually I love them and want to encourage them to my garden. I actually had heard that bees love Borage but I had no idea just how much they love them!
You could stand nearby and hear the humming from the bees, it was pretty loud!
I am actually seriously looking into keeping my own bees and may be getting them very soon (I hope)!! I am so excited! So right now I am looking into planting more flowers that are bee favorites that provide pollen and nectar. This is one plant they love!
Now there are some pro's and con's to Borage.
- It's beautiful!! It is loaded with the loveliest wedgewood-blue starshaped flowers with black anthers. Which is where it gets another nickname, Starflower.
- Borage is rich in nectar which is what attracts it to bees making it benefical to them as a food source. Borage is also nicknamed Bee Bread for that reason.
- Borage is a wonderful companion for tomatoes, strawberries, squash and most other plants. It is said to deter tomato hornworms and cabbageworms. It adds trace minerals to the soil and is great to add to the compost pile. The leaves contain vitamin C and are rich in calcium, potassium and mineral salts. It is said to increase the flavor to strawberries when planted with it. Planted with tomatoes it is said to increase disease resistance and improve growth.
- You can actually eat it! Most people including myself don't care for it and I'll tell you the reason on the con's but it does actually have a mild cucumber taste (however I would rather just eat the cucumber!). The leaves and flowers are edible as well as making oil from the seeds. The leaves are best picked when young and be used in many different ways. The flowers can be eaten at anytime and can also be used in many ways for cullinary purposes. They make a pretty addition to a salad (just pluck the back off the flower first) and when candied for decorating cakes. I will list a couple recipes using it at the bottom.
- Borage has been used for centuries for its medicinal uses. For example releiving symptoms of bronchitis and an anti- diarrhoeal remedy. There are many many uses for it but I do advise you to be very careful when using it for medicinal purposes. Consuming large amounts of it can be toxic to your health but in moderation it it is said to be quite beneficial. Do your research first!
- Borage is a large (3 ft high) gangly plant with thick soft hollow stems. Because of this it will eventually flop over all over the place and bends very easily. After a good heavy rain, or wind and the weight of all those lovely blue flowers is will go right over! Not very pretty at that point! I started ripping them out one by one that summer because it started looking so dreadfully messy.
- Another thing is it's leaves. They are about about 6 inches long and are about 1 1/2 inches wide. They are large oval shaped leaves that are covered in tiny white prickly hairs...actually the entire plant is covered in them. This is why many people do not care to eat the leaves unless maybe you boil them first. The younger leaves are a lot less hairy though.
- Because of it's size it can really swamp out a vegetable, herb or flower bed so don't do like I did and plant a bunch close together. In fact I would only plant yourself 2 maybe 3 plants depending on the size bed and room you have. A little goes a long way with this plant!
So there you have the pro's and con's on Borage. To be honest as you can see it has more pro's than con's I think and its benefical aspects of it seem to outway the con's it has. I would try it and see how you like it. It self seeds readily too, and best if direct seeded in the spring. It is also easy to rip out if you don't like it or when you grow tired of it. I definetely plan to plant more next year, mainly for the bees I hope to get. If it really does deter tomato hornworms that is reason enough to try it! I had loads of those last year and kept finding half my plants eaten by the time I would find them...I got even though as they made very large tasty treats for my "girls"! Ha!
This is wonderful on cucumber tea sandwiches.
7 half pint jar Ingredients 6 cups borage leaves (and flowers), 1 tablespoon mint leaf (optional), 2 tablespoons lemons, 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package dry pectin, 5 cups sugar
Soak 6 cups of borage leaves and mint leave if using and flowers parts in a 4 cups of cold water overnight, drain and strain, pressing the liquid out of the leaves and flowers gently.
Measure 4 cups of the liquid, add the lemon juice, and pectin.
Put into a deep jelly kettle and bring to a rolling boil, then add sugar and stir to mix well.
Stir and boil hard for 1 1/2 minutes, or until mixture sheets from a wooden spoon, skim, pour into hot clean 1/2 pint jelly jars. Seal the a water bath accordingly.
Yield: 4 servings
2 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 bunch borage, cut into strips, 1 liter extra-virgin olive oil, for frying In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs, flour, baking powder, water, cheese and a pinch each of salt and pepper and whisk well to combine. Cover and rest for at least 2 hours.
In a tall-sided, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil to 350 degrees F. Stir the borage into the batter. Drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with paper towels, to drain. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
I have never tried these recipes so please if you are up to making something a little different and want to give one of these a try, email your results or better yet leave a comment so anyone else thinking about trying it can know how it was.