Posted on August 8, 2022.
Borage is well-known for its vividly blue, star-shaped flowers. But, this plant isn’t all looks – it also grows delicious microgreens! Borage microgreens have a strong cucumber flavor that’s also been likened to cantaloupe, lemon, and even celery. It’s often grown instead of cucumber microgreens, even though they aren’t related. If you like to make smoothies, tea, and even fancy alcoholic drinks, borage microgreens are perfect for your garden!
Borage microgreens are harvested when each seed’s cotyledons are fully opened. These tasty leaves are light green, somewhat succulent, and very crunchy. Like the slightly furry mature borage plant, borage microgreens have tiny hairs on the leaves, but not enough that they aren’t palatable.
One of our favorite things about microgreens is that they have a higher concentration of nutrients than full-grown plants. The little green leaves on borage microgreens pack a powerful punch of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, and folic acid (the last of which will support genetic material development). Just a handful of them added to your salads, sandwiches, or smoothies will increase the nutritional value dramatically. They’re so easy to incorporate into your diet that growing borage microgreens is sure to boost your immune system.
The best part of all? It’s super easy to grow borage microgreens! They have the same care requirements as most microgreens and aren’t particularly picky. It only takes 10-20 days for borage microgreens to complete germination and mature, so you could be enjoying their benefits just a few weeks from now!
Growing Borage Microgreens
Growing microgreens is a straightforward business – and borage microgreens are no exception. With some simple instructions, you can quickly create a mini forest of ultra-nutritious borage.
Here’s what you’ll need to build your microgreen garden:
Seeds: any variety of borage seeds, such as the borage microgreen seeds from True Leaf Market
Growing medium: we prefer Espoma’s seed starting mix or coconut coir
Light: purchase a T5 grow light for the best results
Growing trays: one tray with drainage holes and one solid tray
Small weight: a rock, brick, or anything under 5 pounds
Microgreen seeds need fine-grained, well-draining soil. Seed starting soil is perfect since it doesn’t have any large debris that the baby roots have to navigate around. You can also use coconut coir soil, which is excellent at staying moist without drawing the borage microgreen seeds. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, borage microgreens are one of the few microgreens that can complete germination and grow hydroponically in a soilless medium.
It’s easy to ignore the grow light requirement, especially since it’s a pricier item to purchase. While you can plant and cultivate borage microgreens under sunlight, you’ll have much more success with the recommended grow light. To get an even, dense mat of healthy microgreens, the light source needs to be very close and directly above them. Since borage microgreens are grown indoors, grow lights are even more essential for creating an accessible microgreens garden.
Borage seeds look like some distant cousin of a peanut shell. With that textured shell, you’d think borage microgreens seeds need to pre-soak, but they don’t! You can jump straight into planting your borage microgreen seeds.
Before you start sowing your borage seeds, you’ll need to prep the soil. Grab the growing tray with holes and fill it just below the rim with your choice of potting soil. Slightly tamp down the soil surface and smooth it out as evenly as possible.
Instead of sowing the microgreen seeds individually, sprinkle them all across the soil surface. The seeds should go right up to the edge of the tray, as if you were planting a plot of grass. Although we want a good quantity of seeds per tray, ensure that they aren’t overlapping.
Just like we skipped soaking, we’ll skip covering the tray of seeds with soil. Instead, give the seeds a good misting of water and place the second growing tray directly on top. Set your small weight on top to keep the cover tray in place. This added weight will also encourage the borage microgreens to grow strong stems after germination.
Borage microgreens seeds take anywhere from 5-10 days to germinate (some may be as early as 2 days!). During this time, keep the cover tray in place. You can peek in every now and then to see how many seeds have germinated. We’re shooting for a 90% germination rate before moving on to normal microgreens maintenance. When enough borage microgreens seeds have sprouted, they’ll push up the top tray and weight, signaling to you that they’re ready for some light.
When you first remove the growing tray, your borage microgreen seedlings will be white and a little smushed. Not to worry, though, because we have a grow light! Position your light a foot or two directly above the borage microgreens trays and turn it on for at least 6 hours a day. The weak-looking borage microgreens will quickly stretch up to the light and produce chlorophyll, turning them a gentle shade of green.
By this time, your trays of borage microgreens may be thirsty. If the soil is starting to dry out, you’ll need to start bottom watering. This method is perfect for growing microgreens because it wets the tray soil while keeping the borage microgreens dry. Plus, you’ll get to reuse your cover tray.
Fill your solid tray with an inch or two of water and set the borage growing tray inside it. The borage microgreens and soil will soak up water through the drainage holes without getting a drop on the young leaves. The result is fully watering your plants without collecting soil surface moisture that invites bacteria growth.
Your borage microgreens are ready to harvest when the seed-leaves have fully developed. You may even see some true leaves starting to form. We want to harvest before these true green leaves grow in though because the flavor profile will start to change (not to mention the roots will run out of room in their shallow trays!). If you’re dying to see the blue flowers this plant can produce, transplant some of the borage somewhere roomier.
Grab your kitchen scissors and clip the borage microgreens in small-quantity bunches. Unless you’re planning a big meal, you may want to stagger your harvesting over a few days. Borage microgreens taste the best right after they’re harvested and don’t store very well.
Sadly, borage microgreens only produce one crop. After collecting your sprouted seedlings, throw the leftover soil and plant material into your compost bin. For your next round of sowing and growing, wash the trays and use new soil.
Once harvested, hold off on washing your borage microgreens until you’re just about to use them. Use your harvest as a raw garnish on top of salads, bundled in sandwiches, or steeped in tea.
If you harvested a bit too much, you can store the extra borage microgreens for 5-10 days. To keep them as fresh as possible, wrap them in a paper towel, seal them in a container, and stash them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Every few days, you’ll want to open the container and change out the paper towel (too much moisture in the container will make the borage microgreens harvest go bad).
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