My banner features the plant Borage (Borago officinalis) a true wonder and perfect plant to start this month for a whole range of benefits.
Borage is a plant with long herbal history in treating depression and doubt and in promoting courage and joy and it is a joy to have it in the edible garden – as an ornamental, as an edible-drinkable crop and above all as a companion plant. Borage is also known as bee bread and it is a boon to bees; Being a melliferous plant with good viscosity and yield in nectar flow and plenty of pollen, it feeds not just honey bees and many native species of bumble bee but an array of pollinators and other beneficial insects – not least parasitic wasps. Beekeepers value it for the long flowering season from May/June until the latest of the autumn frosts.
A companion plant for all veg but shows particular comradery with tomatoes, cabbages, squashes and strawberries. It seems to increase strawberry yield which in return seem to enhance borage’s flavour, it deters tomato hornworms and other pests of Solanums. It attracts predators of cabbage caterpillars and deters subterranean cabbage worms. To the compost heap following haircuts in August or September or after the frosts have finished it for this year, it adds iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc and magnesium as well as green humus. Technically a hardy annual but Borage is self-sowing so consider it perpetual if it likes your site. Some growers may grow it as a green manure – Its long tap root is a dynamic accumulator. Plants will thrive in any garden soil in full sun or partial shade but likes ample space to prosper in; so space well. Maturing to 40-60cm height (but some varieties taller) and by a 40-80cm spread.
As edible gardeners we may also delight in the edibility of borage with edible Flowers in particular but also comestible younger stems and leaves delivering a savoury note with a hint of cucumber and a mild peppery hit. Ideal for salads, sugars & syrups, oils & vinegars, decoration & garnish and also in beverages – herbal teas and fruit cups to summer wines and flavoured autumnal alcohols. Are you loving it?
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