I am often asked what to do with borage. What is it good for? That’s a good question because you won’t find it in any recipe ingredients list nor will you find recommendations for usage for common ailments. So why would you want to grow borage?
Flower gardeners grow it for its bright blue star-shaped flowers. They grow in a cluster from the top of the plan and hang face down to the ground. There is also a white-flowered variety but most people prefer the blue. Deadhead it regularly to keep it blooming. Borage’s fuzzy leaves add texture to the garden.
Cooks grow borage for its cool cucumber taste. But what about those fuzzy leaves? The secret is to pick only the youngest leaves before they have developed their hairy coating. The leaves make wonderful additions to salads. Even the flowers are edible with a honey-like taste. Southern European countries use borage as a vegetable, preparing soups and sauces with it, as well as using it for filling raviolis.
Borage is perfect in the vegetable garden where it both attracts pollinators and repels harmful insects. Its beautiful blue flowers are a bee magnet. Plant borage with your tomatoes to keep the dreaded hornworms away and cucurbits to keep the cucumber beetles away.
Borage is even grown commercially for its seed oil which is full of GLA (gamma- linolenic acid). GLA is full of healthful fatty acids. Borage has the highest amount of GLA of any plant.
Borage is easy to grow. Originally from southern Europe, it has naturalized throughout Europe and North America. It’s an annual, but reseeds itself readily so you will have plants year after year. The plants grow to 18 to 24 inches and prefer sun but will tolerate a little shade. It’s not fussy about soil or water.
So how will you use this versatile herb?