Borage is a spontaneous herb that is also grown as a vegetable, being edible and indeed very good. It is part of the culinary tradition of some areas of Italy, such as Liguria where it is used for the filling of ravioli.
It is an interesting presentation for the organic garden, both because it is eaten and because its beautiful blue flowers, as well as brighten up the gardens, attract bees and other insects useful for agriculture. In fact, borage flowers are rich in nectar and therefore very welcome to bumblebees, bees and wasps.
Like many weed species, it is really simple to grow and after having brought it to land it happens that it spreads easily on its own, disseminating its seeds and reborn in various parts of the garden. It can be an excellent idea to let the borders populate.
Borage is also known as a medicinal plant for its beneficial properties, although care must be taken not to overdo it because in large quantities it can create liver problems.
The borage plant
Its scientific name is Borago officinalis, the borage shrub reaches half a meter in height and the leaves are covered with white hairs that make it easily recognizable even when it has just sprung.
The flowers have five petals arranged in a star shape, are blue or more rarely white, the roots of this plant are taproots and develop deep in the earth.
Sow the borage
Climate and terrain. Being a weed, it is not very demanding in terms of care, soil, and climate and can easily adapt. It loves slightly humid soils, in the vegetable garden it is best to plant it in well-sunny flower beds.
When to sow. In Italy it is grown as an annual plant, to be sown in spring. We recommend planting it directly in the vegetable garden because it does not like transplants or in any case not to let the plant develop too much in the seedbed. Its taproot suffers from the constriction of the jars.
Although it is a species that we find in many areas as spontaneous borage seeds can also be purchased, I recommend choosing organic and non-hybrid seeds (like those you find here).
Sowing distances. The plants are kept at least 20 cm away from each other, it is useful to space the rows of 40/50 cm to allow a passage.
Cultivation of borage
Borage is a spontaneous herb, in nature it has no problem propagating independently. Consequently, it does not require much care and is very easy to manage in the garden.
There are no particular pests or diseases to beware of and the positive result of organic cultivation is almost guaranteed.
If we have carried out direct sowing, as recommended, in the first weeks it will be useful to weed the weeds, with the transplant the work is decidedly less because you put the plant already formed. It is a crop that once started competes well with other spontaneous plants and reaches a good size that allows it to stand out and have full light.
Some irrigation may be useful to prevent the soil from drying out completely, especially in summer, which we can reduce if we use a mulch to cover the ground.
At the first frosts, the plant dies and the seeds are kept to be used the following year. It often re-sows even on its own, but be careful that it does not do it too much, spreading even outside its spaces and invading the garden.
Collection of leaves and flowers
We can collect the borage leaves at the time of use, if we collect in moderation without undressing the plant too much, the borage will be able to make flowers and later seeds, so we can continue to cultivate it for the following years.
It is better to proceed by taking the basal leaves. To prolong the production of leaves it is better to remove the flowers without letting them go to seed. Borage grows spontaneously, so by learning to recognize it you can also collect it in the meadows or on the side of the road.
Use of borage
Borage leaves are eaten cooked, just boil and season them to bring them to the table as a vegetable. They can also be minced in an omelet or inserted in soups and broths. They are traditionally stuffed in Ligurian ravioli, combined with ricotta.
The flowers can be eaten raw in salads, with their deep blue, they are also scenographic and decorative in dishes. To be good they should be used fresh, they have a taste reminiscent of cucumber.
You can also dry both the flowers and the leaves, you need a dark and airy place and the dried borage is kept in airtight jars.
Properties of borage
As its botanical name reminds us, borage is a medicinal plant with various positive properties, so it is useful to consume it. It contains the famous Omega 6, useful for skin cells, it also has calcium and potassium. In natural medicine, anti-inflammatory, cough-calming, and antidepressant properties are attributed. Borage is also a diuretic and purifying herb. The essential oil obtained from borage seeds is a natural supplement listed on the list of the ministry of health.
Contraindications of borage
Borage contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, plant substances that can be harmful to the liver and even carcinogenic. For toxicity, the consumption must be consistent and constant over time, for this reason, borage is in all respects considered an edible plant and we find Ligurian borage ravioli on the market.
As a precaution, it is good to remember not to overdo the excessive and constant consumption of borage, especially its raw leaves, and to avoid eating this plant when pregnant or for people with liver problems.
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