Tag Archives: borage

Flowers for Pollinators II

Vegetables And Herbs

As I mentioned in the previous post, I left some vegetables and herbs flowering for pollinators and for seeds.  It also helps to draw beneficial insects into the vegetable patch.  The downside is that these beneficial insects don’t discriminate, they eat anything they can grab, honeybees and bumblebees included.  But we never have to spray our vegetables.

Globe or Greek basil has very strong flavor for a very small basil. I let some flower and draw a lot of bees in
Globe or Greek basil has very strong flavor for a very small basil. It’s only 6 inches tall with tiny bright leaves.  I grow many types of basil and found that they cross pollinate as well.  Last year I planted seeds I collected from the Globe basil but the basil that grew from it turned to be a short basil with small green leaves, a hint of purple and with a Thai basil taste.
Anise hyssop is everyone favorite-bees, wasps, butterfly and I.
Anise hyssop is everyone’s favorite, bees, wasps, butterflies and myself.  I like to brush against it which causes it to release an anise aroma.  The tiny flowers are also good in salads or desserts as it has a sweet nectar and anise scent.  Once the flower fades, the American Goldfinches take over for the seeds.
This is a honey bee favorite, Garlic chive. The flower is edible with strong chive flavor. Sometime I wonder if it will make honey smell and taste like chive
This is a honey bee favorite, Garlic chive or Chinese chive.  The flower is edible with a strong chive flavor. Sometimes I wonder if it will make the honey smell and taste like chive.
Any type of mints will do, they love it. Just don't forget to cut the spent flower off otherwise there will be plenty of mints in the garden. I have that problem and have to pull seedlings out.
Any type of mint will do, they love it.  Just don’t forget to cut the spent flowers off otherwise there will be plenty of mint in the garden as it spreads like crazy.  I have that problem and have to pull seedlings out.
Borage has pretty lavender and pale pink color that taste like cucumber
Borage has pretty lavender and pale pink colors and tastes like cucumber.  Flowers are good in salads and sweets.  However, it self-sows easily and can take over your garden in no time.
I love broccoli raab for it bitter taste. The wild one is very hardy
I love broccoli raab for its bitter taste.  Birds love the seedpods. The wild one is very hardy.
Chinese broccoli is one of my favorite
Chinese broccoli is one of my favorites.  It’s great in soup, stir-fry.  It’s also very hardy and self-sows.
Saffron is a type of crocus that bloom in late summer. I let the bees have the pollen before I picked three stamens off to dry.
Saffron is a type of crocus that blooms in late summer.  I let the bees have the pollen before I harvested three stamens off to dry.
I plant lavender along our walkway and stonewall where we can brush against them to create aroma in the garden. Not that many flowers that are deer and rabbit proof but this is one of them
I plant lavender along our walkway and stonewall where we can brush against them to release their perfume in the garden.  Not that many flowers are deer and rabbit proof but this is one of them

There are many more herbs and vegetables in our garden as both of us love eating fresh vegetables and drinking herbal tea.  Rubbing fresh herbs in your hands for the scent is also very refreshing.  I think the herb pollen that mixes in with the honey is also a good medicinal property.

Next will be flowers for bees from what we love to hate….weeds.

What’s Left

Late Autumn

Did we really have a summer?  Briefly.  Most of the leaves are gone now and the plants are ready to take a rest.  But some plants in the garden are still pushing out their last show of the season.  I envy some of them when I do garden chores in a sweatshirt in a bracing chilly wind and see them with their bare branches and leaves or what’s left of them.  And there are these, the ones that still put on a show for us:

Alyssum
Alyssum

This clump of Alyssum is self-sown year after year, self fed as well.  I left them where they came up since they are very good at drawing in beneficial insects and smell like honey.  This one is in the vegetable garden, draped over the raised-bed reaching for sunlight.

Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop

Another readily self-sown, Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), is loved by birds and bees.  The second batch that sprouted up later this summer is flowering now.  It can be really invasive but the American Goldfinch love the seeds and my honeybees love them too so I let them grow.  Makes a great tea as well.

Borage
Borage

I have to pull a lot of Borage (Borago officinalis) out since one plant can take up a lot of space and they self-sow vociferously.  The plants that sprouted in spring are long gone.  These are the ones that came up in late summer.  Aside from the blue star shaped flowers that look so lovely, the bees love them as well.

Calendula
Calendula

These Calendula still produce flowers because they are fenced in with the vegetables.  Their relatives outside the fence were eaten down to the ground by deer and woodchucks.

Rose 'MME. Isaac Pereire'
Rose ‘MME. Isaac Pereire’

This old garden rose ‘MME. Isaac Pereire’ continues blooming from late spring to frost.  Deer have nibbled it’s tips and buds but missed this one.  I will put a net around the plot next season so I can have more than three roses in fall.

Rose 'Knockout'
Rose ‘Knockout’

For some reason deer won’t eat this rose.  This “Knockout” continues to bloom from late spring through autumn, plenty of them.  It has a lovely color that changes from salmon to pink as it matures.  If it had any scent (nope, hasn’t any), it would be a perfect rose.

There are some Hollyhock, Garden phlox, Echanecea and Aster flowering here and there and that’s about it.  The growing season is coming to a close again.  Frost is predicted this coming Sunday.  Where has the time gone?

 

 

Flowers For Bees

Let Herbs Flower

Since I started keeping honey bees, the decision on what plants to add to our garden factors in the honey bees as one of the reasons.  I used to think of fragrant, native, butterfly and bird friendly as reasons to choose a plant.  Flowers that butterflies love is not necessarily good for bees.  The butterfly has a very long proboscis, much longer than bee mandibles, so it can easily access flowers for nectar that the bee can’t reach.  If I can find flowers that are good for both of them, it’s perfect.

The first group of plants that work well for both butterflies and bees are herbs.   I have to let them flower, not just keep eating them and make sure to cut off most of the spent flowers.  I let the mint set seed many years ago and it has been a mistake I’ve been paying for ever since.  I have a forest of mint that I can’t get rid of.  Though it smells nice and I can and do use it in many ways, it grows faster than I can consume or give away.

I made the same mistake last year with Anise Hyssop, but they’re easy to transplant.  I dug the seedlings up and replanted them in a group at the edge of the property and they turned out pretty nice when they flowered.  The American Goldfinches love snacking on its seeds so they help to reduce a burgeoning plant population.

A small variety of the herbs I grow is below and aside from being great in many food dishes, in salad and tea, they are also magnets for bees and butterflies.

Spiky lavender blue flowers look lovely when growing in a group.
Spiky lavender blue flowers look lovely when growing in a group.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a good source of nectar for bees.  The flowers and leaves can be used in salad and tea.  I love the smell of crushed leaves, very soothing.

Star shaped blue flower, sometime pink, is a beautiful addition for a vegetable garden.
Star shaped blue flower, sometime pink, is a beautiful addition for a vegetable garden.

Borage (Borago officinalis) has lovely star shaped flowers in blue, white and pink.  I have both blue and pink in the garden, still searching for white.

Calendula comes in many shade of yellow and orange
Calendula comes in many shade of yellow and orange

As much as birds like to eat the Calendula (Calendula officinalis) seeds, there are still plenty left for self- seeding.  The petals can be used in tea and salad or as a substitute for saffron as well.

Pure white, spiky flowers attract so many types of bees and wasps
Pure white, spiky flowers attract so many types of bees and wasps

I don’t think I have to write much about what we can do with the mint.  I wish it wasn’t so invasive.  But I no longer feel guilty when pulling it out and putting it in a garbage bag.

What can be more perfect for Italian bees than Oregano?
What can be more perfect for Italian bees than Oregano?
I'm not sure whether to classify this under vegetable or herb since its properties fall under both.
I’m not sure whether to classify this under vegetable or herb since its properties fall under both.

The bright Canary yellow of a Bitter Melon flower (Momordica charantia) has a sweet fragrance that is very strong on a cool morning.  Bees, Hover flies and small butterflies love it.

Vegetables And Their Flowers

A Closer Look At What We Eat

I love eating vegetables especially a fresh salad just picked minutes ago from our garden.  It’s not just tastier than store bought, but also makes me feel healthier physically and psychologically.  The leafy vegetables hardly have a chance to flower, but when the weather gets really hot and we’re stuck at work, then they start to ‘bolt.’  I do let some of them flower just to get seeds for next season.  That’s when the vegetables show their other beauty; not just the beautiful colors and textures of the leaves but delicate flowers in both color and design.

Arugula
Arugula

We love the the spicy and bitter taste of Arugula or Rocket (Eruca sativa).  Salad would be pretty bland without it, but that’s just my opinion.  Their beautiful pale yellowish/green flowers are edible.

Borage
Borage

Beautiful blue star of Borage (Borago officinalis) flowers are frequent by all type of bees.  They’re not just beautiful but they’re also edible; look lovely in salad.

Broccoli raab
Broccoli raab

I let some of the Broccoli raab (Brassica rapa) flowers bloom to harvest the seeds.  The bright canary yellow flowers add color to the vegetable garden and the bees love them too.

Chinese Broccoli
Chinese Broccoli

Chinese Broccoli or Chinese Kale (Brassica oleracea) is another leafy vegetable I grow.  The leaf is sweeter than other kales and is great for stir-frying or to put in noodle soups.

Garlic, with a small wanderer passing through
Garlic, with a small wanderer passing through

The garlic flower, aka ‘Scape’, has a milder taste than the garlic head.  I pick some of them when they’re small and tightly wrapped in tissue thin skin and use them in stir-fry vegetable dishes.  The photo above is a much more mature scape. These little bulbs are good for pickling or planting.  Although the garlic that grows from these little bulbs will not divide into cloves the first year.

Radish
Radish

Surprisingly the spicy Radish (Raphanus sativus) has these delicate pale pink flowers.  The flowers and seed pods are edible but, for me, it would serve no purpose to eat the seed pods since I let some of them flower to harvest the seeds.

Scallion
Scallion

Green Onion or Scallions (Allium cepa), some may call it bunching onion, is the one we eat the greens, not the bulbs.  The ones I grow have never set bulbs so I grow them from seeds that I collected the previous year.

Spring Vegetable Garden

Sprouting Time

After a long wait for fresh backyard salad, I can hardly stop myself from sowing seeds in the vegetable garden.  As soon as the soil softens, judged by seeing weeds coming up, I put Arugula, Radish (Cherry Belle and French Breakfast), Pak choi, Mizuna, Kale, Swiss chard, Scallion, Lettuce, and Broccoli Raab in.   The arugula is always the first to come up.

I also put Snap Peas in the soil directly.  I find that they grow stronger that way than starting them in a container and replanting them.  I just soak the seeds in water for a few hours, placing them between damp paper towels.  The roots will sprout out in two nights.  I drop the ones with roots in the soil and cover them.  I don’t have to worry about hardening them.  If they feel it’s the right time to poke shoots above ground, they will. They are already a couple of inches tall now.  I will have stir-fry sized pea shoots in a couple of weeks.

Some self-sown Broccoli Raab, Borage and Calendula also came up.  Last year’s Red Russian kale, Scallion and Radicchio looks pretty fresh and healthy.  I can pick them while waiting to thin the seedlings (great baby greens for salad).  I also picked my first Asparagus of the season last weekend and will have some more this weekend.  Garlic is looking lovely at this time too.  I have already fed them once.

Yes, the tomatoes have sown themselves again.  They are just an inch above the soil surface right now, not big enough to be transplanted yet.  I will take most of the Borage and Calendula out from the vegetable garden and transplant them along with the flowers.

Anywhere I turn there are signs of new shoots and leaves unfurling, another cycle of life has begun.

First fresh, sweet, asparagus of the season.
First fresh, sweet, asparagus of the season.
Most of these Calendula seedlings will be transplanted to the flower garden.
Most of these Calendula seedlings will be transplanted to the flower garden.
These Snap peas were sown directly in the soil.  I don't have to cover them even on a 39 degree night.
These Snap peas were sown directly in the soil. I don’t have to cover them even on a 39 degree night.
Borage sprouts up right next to the garlic.  I keep a few of them in the vegetable garden, but this one will have to move.
Borage sprouts up right next to the garlic. I keep a few of them in the vegetable garden, but this one will have to move.
Put the garlic cloves in last October and they came up in March.
Put the garlic cloves in last October and they came up in March.