You might not have heard about borage microgreens before. I've never seen them sold in a store or talked about very often.
This article will familiarize and convince you to grow borage microgreens.
Why would you want to grow them?
Because growing different types of microgreens are fun and exciting, they're also unusual for microgreens with broad leaves, and a flavor similar to cucumbers, with an aftertaste and sweet aroma of honeydews or cantaloupe.
What is Borage and Borage Microgreens?
Unlike most microgreens, borage is not a vegetable plant. Instead, it’s a beautiful flowering plant.
The Latin name for borage is Borago officinalis. Its native range is the Mediterranean and northern Africa area.
Borage has several common names. Burrage, common bugloss, bee-bread, bee fodder, ox's tongue, cool tankard, and most commonly, starflower.
Borage as a Flower
In the flower garden, borage blooms from summer to early fall growing 2 to 3 feet tall. Borage flowers so profusely, the plant may need to be supported, or the wind or rain on the flower tresses can cause it to fall over.
The flowers have five narrow, triangular-pointed petals that resemble a star. Borage blooms profusely and has lovely cornflower blue petals, although there are pink and white variants.
In traditional medicine, borage was used as a diuretic and a poultice for inflammatory swellings.
I grow borage in my vegetable garden as the flowers and sweet smell draw pollinators.
Borage Microgreen Nutrition and Health Benefits
As mentioned, borage has been used in traditional holistic medicine for centuries. Some of the uses help regulate hormones, purify the blood, reduce inflammation, and promote urinary tract health.
I’m not sure any of these health benefits are proven, but more often than not, centuries of trial and use of medicines of ancient times have proven to be somewhat successful.
More recent studies have shown that borage microgreens are high in vitamin C, vitamins B (folic acid), and vitamin K. These help the immune system, develop DNA and genetic material, and aid in wound healing.
How to Use Borage Microgreens
Now that you have a bit of history of borage let’s discuss borage as a microgreen.
I will say that the flavor of borage is unusual as it tastes like a mixture of fresh cucumber and honeydew.
For microgreens, the cotyledons are pretty large and oval.
The color of the leaf is bright light green, quite thick and juicy, and has fuzzy micro hairs on the upper surface.
This texture can be a bit off-putting, and the way to circumvent the fuzzy texture is to chop them before putting them in a salad.
However, the fruity flavor of these microgreens makes them useful in many other ways.
Let’s start with cold salads.
Borage microgreens can be chopped and added to fruit salads or even potato or macaroni salads. The finely chopped borage microgreens add a unique flavor to the salads and a touch of light green color.
Add borage to these salads sparingly as you don’t want to overwhelm the salad with greens but rather increase the consumer's curiosity about the source of the cucumber flavor.
You can add chopped borage microgreens to dips, especially soft cheeses for dipping vegetables, chips, or crackers.
Borage microgreens are also the perfect microgreen to use with fish dishes. The flavor profiles go great with cod, haddock, or other mild-flavored fish.
Add Borage Microgreens to Drinks
Borage microgreens can be added to both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. The cucumber-honeydew flavor works well with any fruity drink or even wine. Borage microgreens can also be substituted in rum drinks for mint in mojitos.
The combination of borage microgreens and lemon also works great.
My favorite is to add crushed borage microgreens to lemon vodka martinis.
More into non-alcoholic drinks?
You can add borage microgreens to water or even make ice cubes with the flowers and leaves.
Steeping borage microgreens in a glass or pitcher of water imparts a coolness, making it a refreshing and restorative summer drink.
Borage microgreens are also excellent when added to fruit or green smoothies.
If you remember, one of the common names of borage is cool tankard. Because back in the 17th century, when tankards were a thing, borage commonly was an ingredient in cool tankards of wine and cider.
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How to Grow Borage Microgreens
Borage microgreens are easy and fun to grow.
I grow borage microgreens using the weighted blackout method.
For that, you will need the following equipment. When and how to use each piece be explained in more detail below.
- Planting tray (growing tray with drainage holes)
- Watering tray
- Potting Mix
- Spray Bottle
- Borage Microgreen Seeds
- Cover or lid
- Tea towel
- LED light
- Scissors or sharp knife (for harvesting)
How Much Borage Seed & Where to Buy It?
Borage seed is unique looking. The seeds are tubular and quite large for microgreen seeds and have a hard husk with linear grooves longitudinally down the seed.
I don’t recommend growing a lot of borage at any one time. You will not use large quantities of this microgreen.
I recommend the Home Microgreens Tray or something similar in size to start. Unless you are selling borage microgreens, I see no reason to grow more than that at any one time.
The Home Microgreens Tray is about 38 square inches in area.
I use 6.6 grams of borage seed for each Home Microgreens Tray. For a 1010 tray, try 17.6-grams.
For reference, an ounce contains 28.35 grams.
If you have a non-standard size tray and want to know how much borage seed you need to use. You can use the Home Microgreens Seed Calculator.
The Home Microgreens Store sells borage seeds at competitive prices.
Do Borage Seeds Need to be Soaked?
Many large seeds with tough outer husks grow better when they are soaked.
Not so for borage seed.
There is no need to pre-soak the seed.
Planting Borage Seeds
Fill the planting tray with a good potting mix and tamp the soil to level the surface.
Next, mist the soil's surface with a spray bottle three or four times to wet the potting mix (soil).
There is no need to wet all of the soil profile. For example, the soil in the bottom of the planting tray does not need to be wet.
It can be detrimental later on as the seed germinates.
Rough textured seeds like borage can hold mold spores, and extra moisture will only increase the chances of a mold outbreak.
I never wet all of the soil when I plant any microgreen seed. Only problems can happen when you do.
Evenly spread your seeds on the soil surface. The seeds are large enough to move them around with your fingers until none touch each other.
Note: Some of the images below are of the beta Home Microgreens Trays (opaque trays & red lids). The black trays and opaque lids are the new Home Microgreens Trays. Both are similar-sized, but the later use much less soil and are therefore more economical.
It might seem that you don’t have enough seeds on the soil.
The leaves of borage microgreens get large, and they will need more room than most other microgreens.
You can adjust your seeding rate on the next tray if you are unhappy with the recommended rate.
Next, to wet the seeds, give them a light mist.
Place the planting tray into the watering tray - do not add water yet.
Putting Borage Seed into the Blackout Period
Once the seeds are spread and misted, move the tray to a location where they can sit undisturbed for 2 or 3 days.
Place a lid or a water-resistant cover on top of the tray, so the lid rests on the seeds.
Do not use the lid or a cover as a dome. We want the lid to touch the seeds.
Next, place a weight on the lid. For a tray the size of a Home Microgreens Tray, we recommend 2-½ to 5 pounds.
Yep, that much.
It can be a large novel or two, a rock, a weight, anything with some mass to push the lid down on the seeds.
The weight helps make better seed-to-soil contact and improves germination.
As the seed germinates, the weight also forces the root of the young seedling to grow downward to gain leverage and help push the weight off of itself.
Once the weight has been placed on the lid or cover, put a tea towel over everything to exclude light and keep the humidity higher.
Borage Blackout Period
Don’t disturb the microgreens while they are in blackout for 48 hours. You should not mist or water the tray again from the top—more on watering later.
After 48 hours or even 72 hours (it won’t hurt the microgreens), gently remove the towel, weight, and lid from the tray.
The seeds should have germinated.
They will be a yellowish green and look a bit squashed.
Don’t worry, that will change soon.
You might also see quite a bit of white fuzzy stuff next to the seed. More than likely, those are root hairs.
Here’s an article on the difference between mold and root hairs.
If there is a little mold, don’t worry; it will go away, or you can combat it using the methods in the above-linked article.
Rough seeds like borage often have mold spores stuck in the grooves, which might grow with the high humidity under the lid. But it will die once exposed to the air and light.
If the seeds only have their radicle growing, put the lid and weight back on and recheck them in another 24 or 48 hours.
The plants should look like they want to lift the weight off and are struggling to get to the light.
Anything less, and they should go back into the blackout.
Putting Borage Microgreens Under Light
Now is the time to move the tray under a light.
Borage will need some artificial light to grow. A sunny window in the summer might work, but you will constantly rotate the tray as the plants grow toward the light.
You are growing your food here, so don’t skimp and not use a light. I hear it all the time in Facebook groups. Spend a little to gain a lot.
You don’t need an expensive grow light. A LED shop light will work.
You will be surprised how much food you can grow under one light.
Invest in growing your food.
A shop light should be at least 20 watts and have a K-value of 5000 or more. All lights will have their kelvin value listed on the box or in the product description.
You can purchase an excellent microgreen light for less than $20.
Besides an excellent potting mix, the light will be your second best investment.
The light should be 4 to 6 inches above the leaves.
The plant will grow, so it’s best to place the light 12 inches above the shelf and then place the tray on top of something (like upside-down trays or an old book) to raise it to the correct height.
As the microgreens grow, remove what you placed under the tray to keep that ideal distance from the light.
Removing a tray is much easier than adjusting the light height all the time.
Plus, you might have other microgreens of different sizes under the light. Keep the light secured and raise or lower the microgreen trays you place under the light.
I run my lights 15-hours a day using a timer. I like timers that I can adjust from my phone so I don't have to fumble with them behind the shelf or in the dark.
Watering Borage Microgreens
The first time to water the tray of borage microgreens is when they come out of the blackout period and go under the lights.
Remember (by feeling) the weight of the tray as you take it out of the blackout.
The little bit of water you added to the tray when you sowed the borage seeds has been up-taken mainly by the plants.
So the tray is dry, or nearly so, and the borage seedlings need water. But before we add water, we want to remember how the tray feels in our hands.
Because you won’t water the microgreens again until the tray feels the same weight.
Overwatering is the biggest mistake new growers - all growers - make. People like schedules; schedules make things easier to remember, so microgreens are often put on a watering schedule.
Not for them, but for us as caretakers.
But in reality, conditions change, such as the humidity, growing rates, foliage mass, loss of soil to root ratio, air movement, etc.
Schedules are a human invention that plants and nature haven't learned yet. There may be cycles, but plants have no schedules when it comes to watering.
Water microgreens and your house plants when they need it, not on Sunday mornings.
Maybe you believe I'm being cynical here, but you would understand if you saw as many photos of overwatered microgreens as I do in my emails.
I recommend watering microgreens when they come out of the blackout period and go under the lights.
Lift the tray before and after the water has been absorbed so you can feel the difference between a tray that needs water and one that doesn’t.
How much water should you add? I’ll discuss that below but first, I want to discuss how to water microgreens.
How to Water Borage Microgreen - All Microgreens
Water microgreens from the bottom.
We grow microgreens in tray sets. The set includes a planting tray (holes in the bottom) and a watering tray (solid base).
Once we mist the microgreens seeds, we rarely - very rarely - water over the top of microgreens.
I know a lot of other people do. But, usually, these are people growing tens if not hundreds of trays at one time, and those microgreens are grown in larger rooms with more airflow.
In the home, please don't water over the top. It can only increase the chance of fungus growth and, worst, bacteria issues.
Bottom water microgreens and keep the leaves and stems dry. The soil will wick up water from below, and the roots will receive plenty of water.
Please bottom water only.
How Much Water to Give Borage Microgreens
How much water will depend on the tray size and what media you use to grow your microgreens.
We have an article that describes watering microgreens in detail. You can read that microgreen watering article by clicking this link.
For the Home Microgreens tray in this borage microgreen article, we use 1/2 cup of water. The article linked above will have more information if you have a different-sized tray.
Borage microgreens can even wilt a little bit before you water them. Once watered, they will perk back up. Don’t let them go too long without water, but if they wilt, don’t give up on them.
How Much Light Do Borage Microgreens Need?
Deciding what the best lights are to grow microgreens is a tricky subject. One that even I am trying to wrap my head around. I have been observing microgreens growing under many different types of lights for years, and the results are confusing.
We will do an article and podcast on this in the future.
But for now, we need to consider what most people will use and can afford and still get great results.
Here are our suggestions for now. But, we reserve the right to change our minds!
LED shop lights of 20 watts with a Kelvin rating higher than 5,000 (the kelvin value is published on all light boxes) will work fine. We have multiple microgreen racks that use these Barrina lights.
When I started growing microgreens and this website, I used a $15 LED shop light from Home Depot with a Kelvin rating of 4000, and the microgreens did great.
But I found that a higher Kelvin rating did a better job.
Knowing that you do not need a grow light to grow microgreens is essential.
Different lights will change the growth habits of microgreens. But in the end, the inexpensive LED shop lights work. So start with those, and when you decide you want to upgrade, we will have recommendations by then.
We have our lights turned on for 15 hours. The height setting is between 6-inches and 18-inches above the greens, depending on the power of the lights. So start with 8-inches above the greens and experiment.
Again, I will have a lot more on this topic in a future podcast. That's right; I have a podcast too. It's called the Microgreens Podcast, and you can subscribe to it on any of your favorite podcast platforms.
Subscribe to the Microgreens Podcast
Can Borage Microgreens Be Grown in a Sunny Window?
Not very well.
The microgreens will grow leggy and tilt aggressively toward the window with indirect sunlight.
You will have to rotate the tray 90 degrees every day.
The effects will be amplified during winter if you live in higher latitudes.
For best results, grow borage microgreens under artificial light.
Growing Borage Microgreens
From this point on, keep the tray of borage microgreens under the lights and water as they need it.
Simple as that.
Watch them grow.
When to Harvest Borage Microgreens
In 10 to 12 days, your borage microgreens will be ready to harvest.
I recommend tasting them once they reach the 10-day mark to find what works best for you.
Remember that borage leaves have fuzzy micro-hairs on them. These will increase in number and size as the plant gets older.
I found that I enjoy borage microgreens on the young side. However, once they start developing the first true leaves, it is time to harvest them all.
When to harvest borage microgreens will also depend on how you use them.
For salads or eaten raw, the younger, the better, in my opinion.
However, if you want to add them to smoothies or drinks or steep them, you can use more mature leaves.
To harvest, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and cut the stems above the soil line.
Harvest only what you want to use if the borage is on the young side. Borage microgreens do not keep as well as some of the other microgreens.
You will get maybe 5 to 7 days out of them, even in the crisper section of your refrigerator.
The short shelf life is another reason you may want to grow borage in smaller trays.
Borage microgreens will not regrow in the tray once you harvest them.
Summary of How to Grow Borage Microgreens
You can purchase borage microgreen seed from the Home Microgreens Store.
For every square inch of the tray, we plant 0.17-grams of seed. So for a Home Microgreens Tray, use 6.6-grams or 17 grams for a 1010 tray.
We use the weighted blackout method to germinate the borage seed.
The seed stays in the blackout for between 2- and 4-days.
Any light will work for borage microgreens, we used low-wattage grow lights, but any LED shop light with a K-value of 5,000 will work wonderfully!
Water borage microgreens when they need water. When the tray feels light, it is time to water them.
Grow them on under lights between 10 and 12 days.
The harvest age depends on how you want to use the borage microgreens. As a green, the younger, the better. However, if you plan to blend them or use them to flavor a beverage, they can be used for an extended period.
Borage microgreens do not store well. You have up to a week in the refrigerator.
Don't forget that you can grow borage in the garden as well. Borage draws pollinators, and they have beautiful edible cornflower blue flowers.
Why You Should Grow Borage Both Indoors & Outdoors
Borage is a versatile plant. In the microgreen stage, it has a cucumber flavor with a cantaloupe aftertaste.
You can use micro borage during the early stage as an edible garnish. The tasty microgreen can be used in salads and is a perfect addition to fish dishes.
Use mature borage leaves to flavor drinks, and the edible flowers can garnish small plates.
In the vegetable garden, the beautiful flowers draw pollinators.
In a flower garden, borage has a long blooming season. The green leaves are fuzzy and interesting to look at, and the edible flowers can be harvested and used in numerous ways.
I hope you have a great experience growing these uniquely flavored and fun-to-grow microgreens.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
Do You Have a Pinterest Microgreen Board?
If not, why not start one! Use this pin as the first or add to your existing boards.