Borage is an herb, though some people may not know it. It usually has purple flowers on it that have five pointed petals. The leaves appear silky, they are covered in bristles. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, but some people are put off by texture of the leaves.
I originally planted borage for my rabbits. It is said to stimulate and increase milk production in does, so I planted some “just in case” a rabbit is not producing any milk. I’ve only planted it two years and have never needed to test this out.
You can find several recipes for the use of borage in such things as fresh salads, shred it for in a cream cheese spread or add it to lemonade. With a light, refreshing cucumber flavour, my favourite thing is to freeze the flowers in some ice cubes and just add them to water!
And if that wasn’t reason enough to plant it, the bees love it!
Update: I’ve figured out if you put just a little bit of water in the bottom of the ice cube tray and then add the borage and freeze it, you can alter go back and add more water on top and freeze again. This makes sure the flowers are actually in the middle of the ice cube and not floating on top. (I’ve also been doing this with mint)
How pretty is that?!
Here we are nearing the end of May. I've got newly hatched chicks, hens sitting on eggs, hens are laying about 12 eggs a day, baby rabbits being born...and a garden to plant. I've been letting the chickens out trying to coerce them into tilling up my raised garden beds for me. But they also tilled up my planters and the driveway and whatever else they can dig up. I wanted to get my planters by the doorstep done so I seeded them and covered them with bird netting. Hopefully I can remove it without any interference once the plants get bigger.
The chickens did do a decent job of tilling the garden beds for me. But I quickly realized that before I could plant, I'd need to put up a fence. Not only would they be in it, so was the cat and the dog. I bought some 1x3 8' strapping and had the guys cut them in half for me. When I got them home my husband cut points on one end of each board (except for two), so I could drive them in the ground. I decided to fence them both in together so I'd only have one gate to build and use less fencing. After I had them all in the ground I just took a roll of chicken wire and wrapped it the whole way around, stapling it as I went. I bought four corner braces and screwed together a couple boards to make the frame for my gate, attached to the last post with small hinges. And I used a hook and eye for a latch. Done. And it didn't take me veryingn at all and was relatively inexpensive. (Less than $40)
This year I rotated my crops. Planting the pumpkins where I usually do the tomatoes, and vice versa. I cut back a little bit, hoping I'd have more luck with crops if I had less to focus on. Last year I grew about 3 cucumbers. Which was probably plenty for me, but not worth the space they took up. Also, I decided on just two varieties of pumpkins this year instead of trying 4. I chose to forgo the jack-o-lantern pumpkins and the Dill's Atlantic Giant. I've only planted white and blue this year. My friend is planting regular pumpkins and we've decided on a trade when the time comes for harvesting. I also chose not to do peppers or corn this year. Never had much luck with either, so why waste my time? I did however plant both black and cherry tomatoes this year, along with spinach, borage, carrots, and I bought some green onion and garlic bulbs to try my hand at.
I also scaled back on flower seeds. No need to waste my time and money on things I can't get to grow. I actually bought an echinacea plant yesterday, because I've tried for years to get them to grow.
I must mention that I did not start any of these plants in the house. I direct seeded everything this year. With all the extra animals and working on different projects I just don't have the time or space to plant inside and then try to acclimatize them outside before planting. I think a small greenhouse is in my future plans.
Oh, and you should see the blossoms on my apple tree this year! Hoping to actually get some apples!
I won't have much of a garden this year. I planted all my seedlings out and they all died. I was so anxious to get my garden planted that I didn't take the time to harden them off before planting. What I should have done is set them out in the sun for a few hours a day for about a week. They all got sunburned and what had actually survived got killed by a frost I didn't know we had...,
I did plant out the rest of the seeds. I believe I can see some carrots starting. Something is better than nothing I guess.
My my gardens are so full of weeds it's not funny. I'm not sure how to correct the problem. It seems like endless pulling.
I also have have a few flowers coming up, the hollyhocks are receiving from last year and I should see flowers on them this year. The pansies are thriving and the lavender is growing new shoots. Also hoping to see flowers on them this year.
I have very few blossoms on the young Apple tree. Which is better than last year, but still looks pretty sad. The old trees are covered. I haven't even thought about checking the raspberry plant. I really should do that.
Dear husband has been clearing out from underneath the old apple trees, so I can try trimming it up next spring. I am also planning to cut down the quince bush so next year it will regrow. Quince only grow on new wood.
We've officially started the chicken coop. We've got a couple walls frames up, but couldn't do much else until we had a floor. The DOT finally lifted the spring weight restrictions and we had some rough fill delivered. I picked up all the lumber to do the floor. Hopefully progress will be quick.
Ive also decided it was time to put the plants out. They were taking over my table. According to the Farmers Almanac, I should have waiting until this weekend. Oh well.
Update: Finally getting somewhere with this chicken coop! I'm hoping in about a week I should have my chickens home with me.
Here we are. Still need to add the roost and droppings board on the inside, stain the front, and build the run. At the top, you can see that's it's open. It was supposed to have plywood on it, but as I sat inside painting, I looked up and loves what I saw. The sky. The tree. Sunlight. Felt fresh air. So now we are going to attach hardware cloth to it, and put some lexan over it on hinges so it can be opened in the summer and closed in the winter, but I'll still have the extra light. I'm so excited to get my babies home!
So, after a long day, I finally got to start a few seeds. I picked 4 that I felt needed to be started now. I will start more in a week or so.
I started with some pellets. Added the water and waited for them to expand. I also took notes. I wrote which ones I started and what day. I'm also keeping the seed packets and writing the dates on them. Then I will know when it is okay to plant them out.
Feb. 28: So here we are on week one. And we have seedlings! The dahlias and the black tomatoes are up, and it seems like the peppers should be up any day now. So today I planted a few more seeds. Just flowers. Next week will be cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.
I don't have a cold room. I'd love to have one. Some place to store all the things I want to plant. Carrots, potatoes, canned tomatoes, jams and jellies, pumpkins....
But I don't. So I just planted carrots. I bought 'Ideal' carrot seeds from Halifax Seed. They are a short carrot, which is great for my crappy, rocky soil. (Rondo is also a good choice for this)
I pulled a few back before Christmas to go with dinner, but we ended up eating at my grandparents' instead. I still have a few in the fridge. Just as good as the day they were picked. The rest were still in the garden until this morning (Feb 4)
I brought them in the house, cut the greens off (and set them aside for the rabbits), and rinsed them off. They are now drying, waiting to be put in a bag with holes in it.
After the first frost, carrots stop growing. You can just leave them in the ground after that, then pull them when you want them. You can add a bit of mulch for added insulation, if you like.
We've had a lot of snow lately. Still calling for more. It's very cold, the chickens are hardly laying and all the poop is frozen. The first day that it hits above 0 degrees, I have to get out there and start scraping. I normally put everything in the green bin and haul it out to the road. I can't get the green bin anywhere near the buildings out back. I'm thinking about getting an old wheelbarrow tray and filling it up and just dragging it on top of the snow and dumping it into my gardens. Chicken manure is great. I wish that I could get the chickens in the garden to till it all in for me, but, too much snow. Rabbit manure is also excellent for gardens. It's what they call a "cold" manure". It doesn't need to dry out like cow manure.
Next step, getting the tray. I know there's one at work, now hopefully I can get it cheap. Now if only I could learn the dog to pull the full tray, that would be great.
Update: I tried the wheelbarrow tray thing and it was a pain in the ass. I finally bought a Muck Bucket. I just fill it up and carry it out the the green bin. I love it. Got it at Home Hardware
Last year I bought a lot of my seeds from Home Hardware. They carry their own brand (Home Gardner) and also have a Halifax Seed display. I bought several types of seeds. Some for my planters by the doorstep. Some for the flower garden around the lobster traps, some for the flower garden by the apple tree, some for the raised beds I made last year for my veggies, Then I decided that I would check out the Halifax Seed website to see what else they had to offer. So I ordered more seeds.
So this year they sent me a seed catalogue. I was pretty excited. Small things, I know.
I've gone through the whole catalogue already and marked everything I wanted. Problem is, last year I should have kept notes. So, if you're reading this and plan on planting anything worth while, please keep note. I know I will this year.
Write down all the seeds you buy. Write where you planted them, and when you planted them. Write down when they came up, what kind of fertilizer you used, what didn't grow at all, what didn't grow well, what grew well. That way, next year you will know if you want to try something again that may have failed the previous year. (If it's something I really want, I'll try 3 times before I give up) You'll know what not to buy. You'll know when to plant. You'll know where you put it.
In my planters I planted flowers. Shorter ones in the front, taller in the back, but nothing too tall. Something happened and most of what I planted did not grow at all. But I can't remember what I planted. I did get some Bachelor's Buttons that reseeded themselves from the previous year. And something that grew very late and the frost got in before it opened.
The flower garden around the lobster crates grew nothing. I always plant Cut Flowers and Wildflowers, but nothing happened this year.
In my flower garden by the apple tree, I planted several types of flowers, some lavender and some chamomile. Lavender is great for inducing labour in rabbits, and chamomile is a great calming herb, and weepy eye wash. Also great for upset stomachs. I was very pleased with my flower garden this year.
I made two raised garden beds. One for pumpkins and cucumbers, the other for tomatoes, carrots, peppers, lettuce, borage, and some things that didn't grow. My cherry tomatoes were wonderful. I tried black tomatoes, which I think I will try again. I grew one blue pumpkin and a few jack-o-lanterns. I didn't get the peppers before the frost did. I planted the tomatoes and peppers inside, and I will again this year.
So, if you're learned anything from me today, let it be that you should write things down!