Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beautiful borage

Back when I took my Master Composter/Recycler course in 2007, Ron Berezan, also known as the Urban Farmer, spoke to us about permaculture during one of our classes, and sang the praise of a humble plant known as borage. He told us that it had lovely blue star-shaped flowers with leaves that had a nice cucumber-ish flavour, and that it attracted bees by the droves. He suggested that if you want a bumper crop of cucumbers, it's a must-grow plant.

It took me a while, but I eventually found some borage seed in 2010 and planted it all around my cucumber patch. What I didn't know was that borage is a fairly large plant that likes to spread itself out... so the many seeds I planted meant that the plants also nearly took over my onion and strawberry sections of the garden. I learned that the texture of the fuzzy leaves wasn't my favourite, though they do have a nice flavour, and I haven't tried the flowers, which are also edible, but I can imagine how pretty they would be sugared on a cake.

What I really love is standing near a plant and watching the bees. I think my yard's fly-in bee population has doubled since I've been growing borage, which has reseeded itself every year since. This year I have about eight plants in the back yard, and six out front, and they're a never ending source of bee happiness until frost. Their leaves also make a refreshing tea, which I plan to try this afternoon.

The Urban Farmer knew of that which he spoke. My luck with cucumbers definitely improved once I had these little blue star flowers near the cucumber patch... and you can see what I mean about how they attract the bees! It won't be long til pickle time, thanks to bees and borage.

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