Catnip is probably one of the first herbs that people learn about that has a purpose other than food for humans. We all adore our pets and provide them much love and affection, not to mention toys and treats.
Felines love their catnip and we’re only too happy to oblige them their desire. After all, we don’t have mice. We have cats.
We see to it each year that wild, native catnip, Nepeta cataria, seeds are spread about in offering to the little mousers everywhere. Cats rub against the plants and chew on a leaf now and then. One of the big boys holds down a fresh leaf that I’ve given him with one paw and licks the leaf to shreds until he’s down to the stem.
Flowering catnip, pre-harvest. Photos taken 16Sep08.
For fun during the cold season, when catnip will only be growing in a planter at our latitude, we harvest a few plants and dry them.
Harvesting the catnip is as easy as pulling up the entire plant, or cutting the stems off near the ground, and laying the stems on a clean surface for a few days. Don’t pile a lot of stems together so that the leaves can dry out and turn the stems everyday so all parts of the plant can dry. I covered a bench with a large black plastic bag to be able to collect the seeds that might otherwise roll away.
Cut off the flowering tops and carefully strip the leaves from the stems so that they’re not crushed. Careful handing will help to retain the aromatic compounds that attract the kitties.
Catnip, dried on a clean surface.
Not only do cats enjoy catnip, but people can enjoy it, too. Use the dried leaf in making tea – it’s especially nice blended with any of the mints.
Once your catnip is completely dry save it in a glass container.
If you’re looking for a little catnip or just the seeds, check out my ebay auctions of catnip this weekend.