Friday, May 15, 2015

Growing Catnip from Seed to Harvest

Have you ever considered the "medicine" available to you, grown in your own backyard (or farm).  From Basil to Coneflower and even Thyme, there are so many reported health benefits of many common (and not so common) herbs and flowers.We started with Basil as it is probably the most common herb and arguably the easiest to grow.

Growing Catnip
Catnip grows as a loosely branching, low perennial. In a flowerbed,
you can plant catnip in front of purple coneflower, which blooms about the same time. The plant bears tiny, white blooms that are not very showy. You can also grow it in containers.  Set out transplants in the spring after the last frost. Keep plants full by pinching the growing stems and flower buds when they appear.

Germination: 7-10 days
Days to Harvest: 80 days

Catnip seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 7 to 10 days, but can germinate in as few as 5 or 6 days in dedicated propagation media.  Catnip plants should be spaced between 15 and 18 inches (38 and 45 cm) apart. Catnip will grow in a relatively wide pH range between 6.1 (mildly acidic) and 7.8 (mildly alkaline).
Our cats love dried catnip!
Benefits of Catnip
From Livestrong,
"Catnip -- Nepeta cataria -- is a strong-smelling plant of the mint family. In the 13th century, people used catnip as a medicinal cure-all, and some practitioners still take catnip today for pain, stress, flatulence, restlessness and nervousness. Medical trials involving catnip are inconclusive, but preliminary evidence suggests that small doses of catnip tea are not a health risk, according to Georgetown University Medical Center. Consult your doctor before drinking catnip tea."

Insect Repellant

Catnip effectively repels insects, according to a study published by the American Chemical Society in August 2001.The chemical nepetalactone that gives catnip its strong scent repels mosquitoes 10 times more effectively than DEET, the compound used in most commercial bug repellents. While the study researched catnip as an essential oil, catnip tea retains some of the strong aroma of the leaves, so may keep bugs away. Alternatively, use catnip essential oil as a bug repellent. Do not ingest essential oil or apply it directly to your skin.
Catnip tea is contraindicated for persons with liver and kidney disorders and pregnant women because it may induce premature labor.

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