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Borage Comfrey's unappreciated cousin.

 
gardener
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I would probably be banned from Permies if I said anything bad about comfrey, it's permacultures little darling after all.  When I read about comfrey I couldn't wait to have it growing around every tree.  I won't bore with my sad tale, but to say in some places comfrey is as difficult to grow as it is amazing.  I have finally managed to keep one common comfrey plant alive, after I kid you not probably over a 100 root plantings.  I'm terrified to do anything but water and pray to the comfrey gods.
Borage on the other hand is my friend.  Borage is a cousin to comfrey, and an amazing herb too.  I would imagine the main reason it isn't as popular as comfrey is the fact that it's an annual. Borage readily reseeds itself, it almost seems like a perennial.  I read borage made a great companion plant for strawberries several years ago, planted a packet of seeds and have had them since, without planting more seeds.  They will spread seeds everywhere. At first I didn't know if I liked that, but they are easy to remove, and compost, or replant.( I have read you can't transplant them, but I have many times.)  Borage is one of the best companion plants there is in my humble opinion.  I couldn't find a plant that you couldn't plant borage with.  It can get large and spread, but if it gets to big, trim it, or cut it out.  I have read its good at mining the soil for trace minerals helping its companions increase resistant to pests and disease.  The bees are nuts for borage, mine are always covered with bees and wasps.  It's also said to deter hornworm, and cabbage worm. It makes a great mulch, and addition to compost.  I'm not sure you can ask more from a plant, but wait there's more.  You can eat it.  It tastes like cucumber.  The texture is very fuzzy, so not my favorite, but the flowers make a tasty beautiful addition to a salad, or frozen in ice to pretty up you lemonade.  There are also several interesting herbal uses for it.
I'm not trying to convince you lucky people who can grow comfrey like a weed to switch to borage, but to let those of you who struggle like me know there is an alternative. So if your tired of dancing naked in the moonlight to the comfrey gods, (just kidding I always wear clothes)  give borage a try.  Happy gardening.
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pollinator
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We have a few natural patches of borage. Where it has been well established for a few successive years the soil is dark and moist. I think it does a pretty good job at soil building. I've never made an effort to include it on purpose in a growing area; I'm generally not a fan of self-seeding annuals around my vegetables, and borage seeds prolifically from what I can see. Comfrey - despite it's limitations - is a bit better behaved in that regard.
 
master steward
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To me, not ever plant is suited for growing in every part of the US or even in the world.

Over the years here on the forum, I have read a lot about borage and comfrey  both.  All I have read says they are both beneficial.

When we bought our property in 2013, we had borage growing up by our gate. Spiderwort, which I love was also growing there.

I have not seen either since then.

I have read that borage is a good pollinator plant and also is good to feed to chickens.  The blue flowers are edible and look pretty in a salad.

Pretty Blue Borage Flowers

Thanks, Jen for sharing your success with borage.
 
gardener
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Thank you for sharing about this, Jen! I too struggle to get comfrey to grow. I've just now gotten a second plant to (hopefully) live. The others I've planted have just disappeared. I think creatures ate them. The plant I have has never been as big or lush as the ones I see in people's videos or pictures. I do love borage, so perhaps I'll give that a go. Maybe I need to do more dancing to the comfrey gods too...
 
gardener
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It's a very short lived early spring annual for me.  I haven't seen any this year so after at least five years I will need to reseed.  I do agree that the bees love the flowers and since the heat seems to kill it early each year,

I might be able to use it as a green manure cover crop for something like my sweet potatoes that goes out when the weather is truly warm. I will have to think on it. Hopefully I remember to source the seeds for early next spring.

On the other hand... my comfrey is finally big enough to start dividing and find out if it will survive anywhere but in the shade.  I'm gonna go do that now.

 
Casie Becker
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My comfrey is in full vigorous bloom (first time in 3 years).  I put the shovel away and planted sweet potato slips instead.

Autocorrect repairs
 
pollinator
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This is the first spring I have had real success with my comfrey proliferation operation. 100% success where last year it was like 12% and only in prepared beds where anything would have grown.

So anyhow, looking for the next plant to spread around. Borage it is! Thanks Jen!
 
pollinator
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I've had all failure with comfrey too but I had some amazing borage last year so I'm on the borage bush too.
 
gardener
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I love my borage too. It is so pretty and it gets huge and blooms all season long for me. It seeds easily but not obnoxiously. Where I have problems is in collecting seeds to share with others. Does anyone collect the seeds and can give me some tips? I find that by the time they are ripe, they immediately open and fall to the ground. When I collect the closed pods, they are never mature enough.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I have never tried to save borage seeds, I hope someone has an answer for you. With other flowers I have heard of people tying a paper bag over the seed head just before it's ready, so the seeds fall into the bag, maybe this would work??  I have transplanted several plants, and most make it.  Maybe you could share a plant.  Good luck.
 
master gardener
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I live where comfrey likes to grow, but I bought a packet each of blue and white borage from Baker Creek because of this thread and I'm putting them in the ground around some apples today. Maybe I can love both plants!
 
pollinator
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I have similarly had no trouble with borage, but have lost some comfrey. I think it’s our bipolar rainfall patterns here in northern CA, as those saying its easy for them seem to be largely outside the dry summer-wet winter belt of the west coast.
 
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