Monday, May 20, 2013

Busy, with small garden accomplishments

In spite of burning up the highways with many trips to Wake Forest Medical School in NC to see my doctors, I've managed to do a few things for the garden.

It's another day here of scattered t'storms. Good thing I have a table on the front porch where I can work on starting seeds.

According to the biodynamic planting calendar, yesterday, today and tomorrow are good days to start fruiting vegetable seeds. I started some tomatoes and a few winter squash yesterday but I need to find more seed flats. Hopefully there are some in one of the sheds; I'm such a pack-rat.

The few seeds I started 3-4 weeks ago are really healthy and ready to transplant. Like a fool, I thought I'd remember what was where without markers. I can tell the summer squash from the beans, but not which is which bean variety, nor can I tell the yellow squash from zukes. What an idiot! I made sure to use markers in the seeds I started yesterday.

I left last fall's dried Japanese morning glory vines on the new trellis, thinking some seeds would fall and germinate. Wrong! Too bad, because I built that trellis specifically to grow enough vines to shade the end-wall of the house from the hot summer sun. 

However, the 2 hardy kiwi I planted last spring on that trellis are doing great and have climbed to about 4-5' tall already. They won't fruit this year (I think they are too young); their fruit is a little smaller than a regular kiwi, and smooth-skinned rather than fuzzy, but tasty. I'll take some oics when the rain stops.

Mike accidentally mowed down the 4 grape vines I started last year on the other trellis. He mows for me when I'm unable, and complains more every year about the things he has to mow around, whereas it was just all grass when I moved here 6 years ago. I keep telling him that my goal is zero grass except maybe a small patch for the dog.

The 2nd food forest guild, started last year (with a plum tree seedling in the center) is slowly taking shape. The chives I planted around the periphery had grown enough by early spring to divide, which I did yesterday. They are wilted but will perk right up in a few days. (A ring of alliums or daffodils around the perimeter is said to keep the grass from encroaching. We'll see if that's true.) I found a bag of daffs that I'll plant tightly between the chives. I have several herb plants to place between the plum tree and the chives, plants that attract and feed pollinators. This year a few tomatoes will go in that bed since the plum seedling is still quite small.

Photo by RC Designer

As my friend in Chile says, borage is a great beneficial plant. It attracts bees, which increases pollination of nearby plants, enhances the growth of tomatoes (by confusing and repelling tomato hornworms); helps brassicas (by repelling and confusing cabbage worms); and strawberries. It's also beneficial for cucumbers, beans (both climbing and bush beans), grapes, zucchini/squash, and peas. Borage can help all plants increase their disease resistance.

Borage is also useful as a mulch, and is very good for the compost pile. It contains calcium and potassium which may account for another reason why tomatoes do well near borage. Blossom end rot, not only in tomatoes but also with zucchini, is caused by lack of calcium. Potassium helps plants to bloom and set fruit, which may increase production in tomatoes and strawberries.

Photo by nociveglia

Borage is an attractive annual that should be grown in every home garden. It produces beautiful star-shaped blue flowers and cucumber-flavored leaves. Used for flavor in salads, cream cheese, tall drinks or cook it and eat like spinach. The flower has a sweet honey-like taste and is often used to decorate desserts and dishes. If frozen into ice-cubes, the flowers become exotic drink coolers.

The oil that is extracted from the seeds (marketed as "starflower oil" or "borage oil") is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Borage also has herbal / medicinal value.


  1. Here, I've not tightly planted chives, nor daffodils, but the crab grass encroaches on them both at every opportunity, despite mulch or 6" deep edging. Maybe it's the tight planting...

    I've had borage in the herb garden, but did not start any this year. I made a chart using the books CARROTS LOVE TOMATOES & ROSES LOVE GARLIC ( ) for the things I plant here, and horehound was strongly recommended for tomatoes.

    Last year I intended to grow some, but could not find seed. I got some this year and have plants to go in with the tomatoes. So we'll see. If there's any extra I'll put it back in the herb garden.

    I did my last starting on May 15th for a May 31 frost date. Mostly the "sprawly" ones: cukes, squashes, etc. So far, I've got all the cukes up, and the Kakai hulless pumpkin.

    I have borage seed. And I do love it. Maybe I'll start some before I get all the starting stuff put away...

  2. It's looking lush and lovely, Darius! I hope that your health problems are behind you and that you will have a great summer in the garden . . . :-)

    1. Hey Woman, I wondered where you are, and how you are doing!

      I DO wish the health problems were behind me but I'm afraid that isn't so.

    2. Life has been keeping me busy, but in good ways. I am so fortunate in my life!


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