First off, welcome to my first blog post! I honestly started this site as an outlet for spewing all of the interesting things I have learned (and continue to learn) through permaculture gardening.
On a recent trip to visit my parents in St. Petersburg, FL (what’s up, hardiness ZONE 10!), I realized I was overwhelming my mom with plant knowledge. We sat in her garden (an herb garden I planted her as a Christmas gift last year) and I rattled on and on about soil, pollinators, and medicinal uses for her plants. She humored me, smiling with a mint water in hand. But I realized then that there may be plant nerds out there like me who would be interested in some of the tips & tricks (through much trial and error) that I have picked up along the way. I am located in Charleston, SC but I hope to help and inspire those living far beyond just the southeast! While some plants I’ll discuss may be specific to my region, most are commonly grown all over the world.
So, why basil and borage? These are my two very favorite plants! They both play a beneficial role in the garden, and in our bodies!
Borage: (also called starflower or bee bush) The bees LOVE this beautiful plant! Beyond attracting pollinators to your garden, it also helps deter unwanted pests such as hornworms. It is particularly helpful in the garden when planted next to tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and squash by increasing resistance to disease. Borage is called a dynamic accumulator, meaning that its roots reach deep down into the soil and help pull trace minerals up toward the surface, benefitting both its own growth and the plants surrounding it. It’s also great for composting and mulching!
Borage contains essential fatty acids that can benefit mood and decrease feelings of depression. It is also an anti-inflammatory and contains high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins B & C. Its flowers and leaves are both edible! We grow borage at a school garden where I teach and the students love snacking on these pretty star-shaped flowers as they explore their space.
A honey bee sipping nectar from the borage flowers in my front-yard pollinator garden.
Basil: This warm-weather-loving plant is a favorite in my garden and my kitchen! During the spring, summer, and fall, I put basil on almost EVERYTHING from eggs to pizza to curry. Also, PESTO. Need I say more? Basil is used in the garden as a companion plant, meaning it has beneficial properties that help the growth and overall health of plants nearby in the soil. My favorite pairing in the garden is planting my tomatoes next to my basil. The root hormones of these two plants interact and are believed to increase the overall taste of the tomatoes (♪ I’m a believer ♪). Additionally, many pests dislike the scent/flavor of basil, and so it can help shield your juicy tomatoes from pesky insects.
I don’t have to tell you basil is delicious. You already know. What you may not know is the health benefits of this wonderful plant. A member of the mint family, basil is an anti-inflammatory, reduces swelling, an antibacterial, and is rich in antioxidants.
African Blue Basil growing in my medicinal herb garden.
Many pictures to come of these beauties in my garden. Thanks for reading!