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Forgotten herbs: Borage

Borage flowers blue purple pink on white marble countertop forgotten herbs

Borage flowers on porridge oatmeal breakfastClose enough pronunciation: “Bore-uhge”

Other than my gardening hat, there is another obsession in my farm lifeblue flowers.

Borage will give you a blue-flower fix all summer long. It is a tall, impressive plant that is easy to grow. And, when it sets too many baby seedlings, it is easy to weed.

borage weeding.JPG

The seeds from the borage flowers can be pressed into an oil that is among the world’s best sources of Omega-6 (GLA) essential fatty acid. I love this luxury oil so much, I incorporate it into all of the soaps I make. You can buy a bar here:

Handmade soap

Borage was definitely an herb your ancestors knew well. It didn’t take me long to find a two-page description of different types of borage in a book published in 1636. Besides Latin, the author, John Gerard, gave the translation of the word borage in four other languages.

Borage is versatile. You can use the crunchy leaves to make salad, soup and decorative garnishes. Throw a few of the unique blue flowers on top of any saladpasta salad, fruit salad, veggie salad, borage-leaf salad. Borage bits are often recommended as an addition to cucumber salads. The leaves and flowers have a light cucumber flavor.

Few breakfasts are as precious as borage on porridge.


I don’t want to mislead you. Not every flower will be blue. Some borage flowers are purple and pink. The same plant will usually give you 80% blue flowers and 20% a mix of pink and purple.


The plant barely needs you. Any time between March and August, put the seeds in the ground. Water them if it doesn’t rain. Your borage should flourish.

If you start early enough in the season, the flowers will bloom and drop, reseeding themselves all summer without your help. In fact, your borage will likely continue to replant itself, and next Spring you’ll have more bright, green borage babies. Too many? They slip right out of the soil if you pull them. Or you can use a garden tool to destroy their sprout-like root system in seconds.

Since borage reseeds so effortlessly, it helps to start your very first planting in a spot where future generations can spread a bit and not annoy you.

I let the borage line one whole side of a cedar raised bed. They are tall plants—reaching a height of approximately 4′. It is best to locate borage near the north side of your garden. You don’t want the tall, leafy mature borage to block sunlight from shorter plants. The next Spring, I just drop a wooden plant marker next to the seedlings wherever they decide to pop-up.




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Forgotten herbs

Dried calendula flowers diy for oil infusions and healing herb salve

Imagine your great-grandkid never hearing the words mint or parsley or sage?

Well, in a way, you are that great-grandkid. I am that great-grandkid.

As chain grocers and supermarkets opened stores all across the world, they favored plants that travelled well. Over time, we simply forgot about a large number of herbs and veggies that were so common generations before us took them for granted.

Funnier still, you drive by some of them all of the time and might not know it. Some of those old-time, common plants escaped your ancestors’ gardens and are now called by the same generic term, “weeds”.

clary plant

But, all is not lost. In this series I want to take you back to a time when the herbs mentioned here were well known.


Explore the series on Forgotten Herbs.  I hope you try an idea or two. Each of the pages will provide you with links to buy some seeds of your own. Maybe we can bring back the popularity of some of these herbs.

Forgotten herb: borage
Forgotten herb: nasturtium
Forgotten herb: clary sage
Forgotten herb: calendula
Forgotten herb: chicory
Forgotten herb: balsam apple

Follow me on Instagram @farmstandculture for more photos of #forgottenherbs