Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb that is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown worldwide. It has hairy, branching stems and produces star-shaped, blue-purple flowers that bloom from late spring through summer. The leaves and flowers of borage have a cucumber-like flavour and are often used in salads, teas, and as a garnish. Borage is also grown as a medicinal herb, with its oil and extract used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments including inflammation, anxiety, and respiratory issues. Additionally, borage is attractive to bees and other pollinators, making it a popular choice for gardens and sustainable landscapes.
How to Grow Borage Organically
- Choose the right time: Borage is an annual herb that is best planted in the spring after the last frost date.
- Select a location: Borage prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. It can grow in a variety of soil types, but prefers a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Prepare the soil: Loosen the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and remove any rocks or debris. Add compost or aged manure to the soil to improve soil fertility and drainage.
- Plant the seeds: Borage is usually grown from seed. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 12-18 inches apart. If planting a large area, consider using a seed spreader.
- Water the plants: Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather.
- Fertilize the plants: Borage does not need a lot of fertilizer. You can add a light application of balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, once or twice during the growing season.
- Control pests and diseases: Borage is generally pest and disease-free. However, it can attract spider mites and leaf miners. Use organic methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap to control pests.
- Harvest the leaves and flowers: Borage leaves and flowers are edible and can be harvested when they are young and tender. Cut the leaves and flowers off the plant using a sharp pair of scissors or pruners.
Following these steps will help you grow borage and harvest its beautiful blue flowers and leaves. Borage is commonly used as a culinary herb and is also used in herbal remedies for its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. The flowers can be used as a garnish, or to make a refreshing tea or flavored water.