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Borage

Common name : borage

Botanical name: Borago officinalis

Origin: Europe

Varieties

Few varieties are available; grow the variety available in your area.

Description

Borage is a tender annual that grows two to three feet tall. The stems and leaves are grey-green and covered with velvety hair, and the light blue flowers grow In drooping clusters. When borage is In flower its a striking plant, especially if you set it high ? on a wall, for instance ? because the nodding flowers are seen to best advantage from below. The flowers are used to add color to potpourri. Borage, like thyme, is supposed to give courage. An old English jingle goes: ", Borage, Bring Courage."

Where and when to grow

Borage will grow almost anywhere in the United States. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures but will not survive a hard frost. Because of its striking coloring and unusual flowers, it makes an attractive indoor plant.

How to plant

Borage prefers well-drained sandy soil in full sun. When youre preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet. Plant borage from seed in early spring after the average date of last frost. Plant the seeds (which germinate readily) a quarter inch deep in rows 18 to 24 inches apart, and when the plants are six to eight inches tall, thin them to stand 12 inches apart.

Fertilizing and watering

Do not fertilize borage again at midseason.

Let borage dry out between waterings.

Pests

Borage has no serious pest problems. Like most herbs, its a good choice for the organic garden.

Diseases

Borage has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

Harvest young leaves as needed throughout the growing season, and harvest the entire plant in the fall before frost.

Storing and preserving

Refrigerate the stems and leaves for fresh use, or freeze them.

Serving suggestions

Fresh borage leaves have a cucumberlike taste and can be used in salads, soups, and stews, or cooked like spinach. You can peel the stems and use them in salads. Borage flowers are sometimes candied for use as a garnish in fruit drinks.

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