September 16, 2014
Harvesting Catnip At My Farm
You know how much I love my animals- I will do anything for them - and this includes making catnip for my beloved felines.
Catnip is a member of the mint family, it’s a perennial herb, and cats love the smell of the essential oil in it--which is in the plants stems and leaves.
It’s easy to grow, harvest, and dry -- to create the stuff cats love. Fortunately, catnip is not addictive and completely harmless.
Enjoy the photos.
1 You can see the catnip planted next to the pergola. Catnip is a flowering herbaceous perennial in the mint family called Labiatae (or Lamiaceae.) The Labiatae family has 236 genera and more than 7,000 species! It thrives in well-drained soil and in full sun to part shade. It blooms from May to September - the blooms are white with pale purple spotting.
2 One of my gardeners, Wilmer Artiga, is beginning to harvest the catnip. The botanical name for catnip is Nepeta cataria. The name Nepeta is believed to have come from the town of Nepete in Italy, and Cataria is thought to have come from the Latin word for cat.
3 Here Wilmer loads the Kawasaki to capacity. Catnip is not just for cats. It's been grown in medicinal gardens for centuries for its sedative effect on humans. Made into a tea, catnip has calming properties similar to chamomile. Catnip may also be recommended by herbalists for relief of ailments including migraines and indigestion.
4 Wilmer is heading to the carriage house where the catnip will be laid out to dry.
5 Once there, he spreads it out nicely so that it all dries evenly.
6 Here's a closeup of the drying catnip. Catnip is indigenous to Europe, Africa, and Asia and is now naturalized throughout the United States.
7 Here is how the catnip looked a few weeks later, after it had dried.
8 Sanu Sherpa, one of my housekeepers, is removing the leaves from the stems.
9 When catnip is thoroughly dried, its rough texture is harsh to handle, so Sanu wears protective gloves. Once the leaves are removed, they make nice, easy to manage piles.
10 Here, Sanu transfers the newly separated pile into a container. Catnip loses its potency over time, so it's best to store it in an airtight container.
11 Sanu is showing off the homemade catnip. As you can see, we make a lot of it!
12 My Himalayan cat, Bartok, is thinking - ooh, catnip time.
13 He's instantly drawn to the container. Domestic cats are not the only felines who are sensitive to catnip. Lions and tigers love it too.
14 After sprinkling a little on his mat, he took to rolling in it! The active ingredient in catnip that causes a 'high' in cats is an essential oil called nepetalactone. It's thought that nepetalactone mimics feline "happy" pheromones and stimulates the receptors in the brain that respond to those pheromones. When eaten, however, catnip seems to have the opposite effect - cats may become very mellow.
15 Bartok chilling out after his catnip session. Most cats react to catnip by rolling, flipping, and rubbing. Usually this lasts about 10 minutes and then cats lose interest for up to a few hours. Being sensitive to catnip is an inherited trait and about 50 percent of cats don't respond to it at all. The trait emerges when a kitten is between three and six months old.