How to: grow borage
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The first question you may be asking is not how to grow borage but why!
For me, the number one reason is bees. Honeybees love the nectar-rich, blue flowers of borage and if I’m to boost my disappointing pomegranate harvest next year I’ll need to nurture more bees to do the pollinating work.
Borage grows year-round in mild climates like Sydney’s, to a somewhat droopy metre tall. The stems are thick, but hollow, so it’s best grown in a clump so that it can lean on friends for support. It grows easily from seed, which means it will appear in open spaces throughout the garden, and flowers on and off throughout the year.
As a bonus to the bee-lure effect, borage is edible. The older leaves are a bit too hairy to qualify as a gourmet ingredient, but the young leaves can be chopped raw into salads and dressings, or cooked in soups. The flowers are stars of the pretty salad plate, and also deliver a faint cucumber flavour. Cake decorators also like to crystallise them to decorate their sweet creations.
Borage in drinks
Borage is one of the botanicals often used in gin so a flower is a pretty alternative to a lemon slice in a g+t. It’s also a traditional addition to a Pimm’s cup. An invigorating tisane can be made using around a tablespoon of chopped fresh borage leaves to a cup of boiling water.
Sweat a big handful of young chopped borage leaves in butter, add 500ml of light chicken stock and a small peeled, chopped potato. Cook until potato is soft, then use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve with borage flowers.
The classic Frankfurt green sauce, served with potatoes, includes chopped borage leaves, along with sorrel, cress, chervil, chives, parsley and salad burnett. The fresh herbs are added to a base of yoghurt; or sour cream enriched with finely chopped boiled egg.
Where to buy: For blue borage, search any seed catalogue, for the harder to find white borage try www.fourseasonsherbs.com.au