For gardeners with minimal time, energy and funds to use toward making their vegetable gardens look pretty this spring, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Kiki Fontenot suggests considering growing borage.

Borage foliage has several culinary uses. It commonly is mixed into salads or used as garnish. The leaves have a mild but somewhat cucumber-like flavor. Some kitchen artists cook down borage leaves as you would greens and mix them into spaghetti and other pasta dishes.

Wait just a little bit longer and you’ll have a plethora of beautiful blue blooms.

“The blooms really pop against the mostly green foliage crops in a fall vegetable garden,” Fontenot says.

And as a bonus, the flowers are edible. They often are used to decorate cakes and other desserts.

“For a really fancy party, freeze a few flowers in ice cubes, but not too many,” she warns. “You wouldn’t want to overwhelm guests with the flavor.”

Even if you have no desire to eat borage, you won’t be the only one enjoying its beauty.

“Borage is a great crop to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden, which is especially important if you plan on growing cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, gourds, zucchini or other cucurbit crops,” Fontenot says.

Simply let the plants grow and snip leaves or flowers as you need them.

Want more borage in your garden next year? Just collect seeds, since this is an open-pollinated plant that should have no trouble germinating in the future.

You can plant borage transplants or seeds into the garden during the spring. As with most edible crops, borage prefers full sun. Plants must be spaced 12-24 inches apart and usually grow 1½- to 3-feet tall.

Keep in mind, too, that borage prefers drier soils, so don’t “love” this one too much, Fontenot says.

Although an annual, borage is known to re-seed itself. So you should be able to enjoy this wonderful culinary herb that is not only tasty but also visually appealing!

Upcoming events

Two garden shows are on tap for this weekend.

The 13th Annual Baton Rouge Spring Garden Show will be Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the John M. Parker Coliseum on Highland Road in Baton Rouge. Local nurseries and other vendors will be selling plants and other garden wares, including tools, pots, ornaments and landscaping materials.

The Hammond Spring Garden Day is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station, 21549 Old Covington Highway, La. Highway 1067, just off U.S. 190.

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