July is in full swing, and here on the farm we’re excited to see our Borage crops flourishing. The flower buds are now visible, and our fields are awash with a brilliant blue bloom. But what is Borage exactly? And why is it so important to us here at Hillfarm?
What is Borage, and how is it used?
Originating in the Mediterranean, Borage is now a popular garden plant and crop in the UK. Otherwise known as ‘starflower’, Borage is easy to grow, self-seeds each year, and has all kinds of fascinating uses.
Lots of people grow Borage as a herb for cooking. It tastes like cucumber, and is delicious freshly picked in a salad, dried as a herb, or used as tea leaves or in soups. We love using Borage in Pimms or gin cocktails!
Traditionally, Borage is also used in herbal medicine, while commercially it is harvested as an oil seed. The large seeds, which grow in a hard pod, are a great source of linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid also found in linseed and walnut oil.
Bees and Borage
One of the main reasons for planting Borage here at Hillfarm is to boost our population of bees, and help them to make our delicious hillfarm honey. Bees absolutely love Borage, and when the flowers bloom they will start collecting the pollen. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting pictures to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages – so make sure you give us a follow and look out for our bees in action!
How to plant Borage in your garden
You can buy Borage seeds from your local garden centre. Sow the seeds in rows during February or March, thinning out once the plants are a couple of inches tall. Borage loves full sunshine, so make sure you plant them in plenty of natural light.
If you grow vegetables in your garden – such as peas, cucumber, squash and tomato – Borage can help them to flourish. The plant is high in calcium and potassium; two nutrients that are crucial in producing healthy crops.
When the Borage is ready to pick, make sure you harvest the leaves regularly and remove dead heads to prolong the lifespan of your plants. If you have young children, Borage is a great plant for studying pollination as they watch the bees go from flower to flower, collecting nectar.
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