Borage, also known as starflower, is an edible ornamental and medical plant, the praises of which have been sung by some of the most famous herbalists in history. John Gerard’sHerballincludes –the sayingEgo borago, gaudia semper ago, meaning ‘I, borage, bring always courage’. And, according to Pliny the Elder, when borage leaves and petals are put into wine, it ‘makes men and women glad and merry, and drives away all sadness, dullness and melancholy’. With such commendations, it’s no surprise that the Blue and White Flowered Mix variety has became a favourite in modern mixology, being used to garnish cocktails such as the gin-based Pimm’s Cup.
HOW TO GROW
SOWING IndoorFeb-Mar OutdoorApr-June
TIMING Germination7-15 days Harvesting50-70 days
SPACING When sowing3-5 cm; Depth 3 cm When thinning10-15 cm
GROWING SunligthFull sun to partial shade SoilWell-drained, light and moist soil WateringRegular, moderate watering FeedingNo fertilizer or compost addition is necessary
CARING Expert tipDo not fertilise because this will promote leaf growth and suppress flowering. Dead-heading or picking the flowers will prolong blooming.
SUPPORTING Pollinators Attracts bees and butterflies. Pests Repels tomato pests.
HOW TO EAT
HARVESTING Pick borage petals and leaves in the cool morning air when the flowers have just opened. Cut young, tender leaves in their first stage for culinary use.
EATING Medicinal propertiesAmong its many other benefits, borage is said to make a great restorative tea for curing hangovers! How to eatCulinary use of borage is common in the Mediterranean region. In Spain, perhaps the world leader in borraja cookery, you can eat the plant stir-fried with garlic and oil or cooked into crunchy crespillos. In Italy, the leaves are used to fill traditional ravioli. The flowers, whether fresh or candied, also make a beautiful decoration for desserts and cakes.