Borage is a multi-purpose crop in our garden. The leaves, seeds, and flowers are edible, and highly nutritious. Borage is also incredible at attracting pollinators to the garden. Honey bees, hummingbirds, bumble bees, and butterflies all will frequent a borage plant. Here is how to grow it!
location - Borage plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are also tolerant of poor soil, so they can be grown in areas where other plants may struggle. Borage plants will get large, so make sure they are in a location that will allow for their size. An average plant when fully mature can be up to 3 feet wide!
Planting - Borage seeds can be sown directly into the ground after the last frost in spring. Sow the seeds thinly, about 1/4 inch deep, and cover with soil. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Germination can take up to 10 days. Once the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, thin them out to about 18 inches apart. This will give the plants enough room to grow and develop.
Watering and fertilizing - Borage plants are drought-tolerant, but they will perform better with regular watering. Water the plants deeply once a week, making sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Additionally, borage plants benefit from a balanced fertilizer. They are VERY fast growing, and in my experience will benefit from lots of Nitrogen due to all of the foliage they produce.
Pests and diseases - Borage is generally considered to be a hardy, disease-resistant plant. However, it can be susceptible to some common garden pests, such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. These pests can cause damage to the leaves and flowers, and can also spread diseases. To prevent or control these pests, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil, or manually remove the pests by hand.
Re-seeding - Borage will readily reseed itself if you are not careful. It is very important to remove old flowers to not only encourage new flowers and growth, but also to discourage seeds from being formed. Borage can quickly take over a garden space if you are not careful. We have found many plants the next spring when we weren't as meticulous at removing seed pods in the fall.
Harvesting - Borage flowers are edible and can be used to add a cucumber-like flavor to salads, sandwiches, and drinks. They are mildly sweet and have a delicate texture. They can also be used as a garnish. The flowers should be harvested when they are fully open, and can be dried or used fresh.
The leaves can be wilted down and consumed, they can be eaten fresh though the hairy stems can be a bit unpleasant in my opinion. Borage leaves are a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium, vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin K. It also has small amounts of essential amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Borage seeds are a good source of minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids. They are high in GLA, which is an omega-6 fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation in the body. They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It is advised to roast and press the seeds to extract the oil, since borage seeds are recommended to be eaten cooked and never eaten in large quantities as they do contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids.