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Veggie Bites – Peonies and Borage

Oh, Borage, I love this herb!  I am hoping that you will try planting it next year in your garden or in pots.

Greetings fellow gardeners,

My first bulb order has arrived, so I need to decide where I am going to put all of them. I guess you can never have too many. 

This week I am dealing with my peonies. My sweet 35-year-old peonies did not have a good year and while peonies do well on neglect, I might have been too neglectful. In addition to these old peonies, I have a row of pink and white peonies that the pollinators enjoy when they bloom in late June and I would like happy flowers next year. Peony flowers make excellent jelly by the way. I am going to cut back the peonies and compost the stems. I usually like to leave the long-stemmed plants in my garden to aid the overwintering bugs and have seed pods for the birds, but peonies seem to do better when cut back. I will leave my goldenrod up for that purpose.

 

Favourite old peonies

After cutting back the peonies I will clean up the whole area and then tuck them into bed with leaves. I don’t use oak or walnut leaves as they take too long to break down nor do I use fruit tree leaves as they are prone to disease. My favourite leaves are maple and I will mulch the peonies with a layer of these leaves. Next spring, I will add compost to my peonies and hopefully they will flower.

 

  Cut back peonies

I have been waiting to collect my marigold seed, but the seed heads have yet to form. All of my pole beans are still producing, and I should get a few more meals from them. I leave a few of the beans to get old and lumpy and when the outer skin is papery, they should have seeds ready to save.

Keep an eye on the weather, keep up with your harvest, water when it is dry and enjoy the fall colours in your garden. Have a great week. Judith.

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Oh, I love this herb!  I am hoping that you will try planting it next year in your garden or in pots. It is easy to grow from seed and it blooms up into October.  Borage used to be used to enhance courage and bravery and now the cucumber-flavoured leaves are eaten in salads and the flowers used as decoration.

 

Borage bloom in October

Years back when I was working as a gardener, I was told about borage. As I like to add something new to the garden each year, I sowed a few seeds at the back of the vegetable garden. I had wanted to increase pollinator activity.  The plant grew quickly and then it produced these flowers that looked like bright blue stars. It was covered in bees. I was sold. The stems are kind of hairy and prickly and might cause a slight rash, so be aware of that.  Once you have a stand of borage it will self-seed for years to come.

I like to use borage in a pot with calendula and marigolds. I like the blue and yellow/orange together. This planter will last throughout the season. 

 

Borage and calendula

Now is the time to start collecting borage seeds. Keep the seeds in a cool dark place. The seeds are also available in most seed catalogues and in the herb section of your local nursery. (If you really can’t find them send me an email and I will send you some.)

 

Collecting borage seeds

When you do plant borage next year, here are a couple of recipes to consider.

Borage Lemonade

Put all ingredients into a blender

  • Use up to seven young borage leaves depending on your preference
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of local honey
  • The juice of 1 lemon

Blend all of the ingredients and strain into glasses. Use borage flowers as decoration.

Borage Soup

  • About 4 cups of borage leaves and flowers
  • ½ packed cup of parsley
  • 4 green onions 
  • 2 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 3 medium potatoes 
  • Salt

Cut the potatoes into large chunks and boil them in salted water for 15 minutes. Remove the potatoes and boil the onions for 3 minutes. Remove the onions and boil the parsley for 2 minutes remove the parsley and boil the borage for 1 minute. Drain all the greens and run under cold water. Bring the stock to a simmer, mash the potatoes into it and simmer for 15 minutes. Chop all the greens and add to the simmering stock. Salt to taste. Add the mixture to a food processor then return to the pot to heat. Serve with borage flowers. 

I am trying this recipe this week! I suspect it will taste like a cucumber, oniony, potato soup. I shall report back.