I’m planting German chamomile seeds for the first time this year. The seeds are so tiny you can barely pinch them for sprinkling (I let them slide off a piece of paper). The dried flowers, alone or combined with other herbs, are steeped to make relaxing teas.
When I planted garden sage, I was adding to my collection of cooking herbs. I must admit, I also dreamed of making smudge sticks, but later learned that the varieties of sage used for ceremonial burning are quite different….and it is not pleasant nor healthy to burn garden sage! I tried a few locations, and finally found one where sage would grow happily. In fact they took over…this is the third year now and they are a thriving community, bushy and close, sending up multiple spikes of purple flowers.
This second photo gives a somewhat closer view of the flowers, sharing their stems with many others.
Plants love to congregate. It never ceases to amaze me how, when left to their own devices, plants will grow next to and under each other. Sometimes called weeds, they could be thought of as companions, depending on your perspective at the moment. The main neighbor shown here is a dogwood bush, visited by spittle bugs, which, I am told, will not damage the plant. And finally, the most interesting part of this photo for me is the surprise collection of white sage flowers!
Over the last days of July I collected pictures of what is going on in my vegetable and herb garden:
The most recent shot, in the top left corner, gives an overview. You can see:
a teepee bearing Fortex green beans.The lower left collage picture gives a closer look at bean plants withcalendula flowers in the foreground. If you look closely, you will be able to see beans hanging between the leaves, well camouflaged;
the apparently empty bamboo teepee in front is for Marketmorecucumber plants, not visible in this shot, but shown in the collage photo at top right;
at front right of overview photo, a zucchini plant with huge floppy leaves (CostataRomanesco); yellow dill umbrellas tower behind;
at front left there are purple-blue borage plants and nearby, yellow-flowered calendula;
Sugar Daddy Snap Pea vines, growing on the trellis at the right, were finishing this week with final offerings.
the bottom right collage picture shows a yellow cherry tomato plant (Blondkopfchen) leaning against a spiral support. There are chive plants to the left.
In the collection of 10 photos below, travelling from top to bottom of each column, starting from the left: winter squash plants (no flowers yet), a bowl of green beans, a tiny baby cucumber in the foreground, sorrel plant, spinach and swiss chard, red onions, baby green peppers, baby and mature basil plants, zucchinis very ready to harvest, and cherry tomatoes.
This morning I posted Borage’s Star Flowers Attract Bees. Then I went out into the garden to pick peas and lettuce. While I was there I was able to get this shot of a full borage plant to add to the previous post’s gallery of flowers and leaves. Getting a full uncluttered shot hasn’t been easy — this is the best so far.
Borage is a versatile herb and an excellent addition to flower and vegetable gardens. Some of its alternate names are very descriptive–they include “Star Flower”, “Bee Bush” and “Bee Bread”. I grew borage for the first time last year– as garden lore says, it is great to have around to attract bees and other pollinators.
This year, several borage plants came up on their own, conveniently, on the borders of the beds. I love self seeders. I planted some cherry tomatoes in the back unfenced garden this year–a small distance from the main plot where the self seeding didn’t reach. Since borage is supposed to be very good for tomatoes, not only encouraging pollination, but also deterring tomato pests, I planted some borage seeds nearby. Unfortunately, when they were three inches high some creature bit them off, leaving only tiny stem stubs behind. The prime suspects are a rabbit, deer, or porcupine. Oh well.
What can you do with Borage? Last year I enjoyed the tall, fuzzy flowering plants and didn’t experiment with their edible leaves and flowers. This year, I was more adventurous and made borage tea using fresh leaves. I added honey and ice–a very pleasant drink. Some people float a few of the edible flowers on top and add a dash of lemon. If you come across some fresh borage leaves, add one cup of boiling water to 1/4 cup of bruised (lightly crushed) leaves; steep for 5 minutes; strain, add honey, and drink hot, or chill for later.
Another use for borage is making flavoured vinegar. Since I have a steady supply of leaves, I am thinking of doing that–soaking the leaves for several weeks in a sealed bottle of vinegar to be used as a herby salad splash. Young borage leaves are sometimes added to salads as an accent green. People report a ‘cucumber’ flavour–not for me, but worth a try.