It's summer, and we all love drying and using fresh herbs. (This method is taken from Alton Brown episode about drying herbs - but not using expensive items!)
Growing and Drying Catnip
Catnip is a variety of the mint family. Very easy to grow, although needs pruning from time to time - the shrub will tend to be skimpy and weak at first, but with a bit of brave trimming, it is a very good investment. If planted in a garden, you might want to fence it in with chicken wire - the neighbourhood cats love the stuff.
How to Grow the Stuff
Catnip can either be no fuss or very fussy. It likes full sun (crazy mild summer weather is messing with my yields), a lot of water. I stuck a plastic bin under mine to catch extra runoff and ensure a plentiful water supply.
You do need to prune it religiously - right about the highest set of leaf buds. The leaf buds will turn into stems, and branch off - creating more buds for you and your kitty. Buds are stronger than normal catnip leaves, but can be very annoying to harvest.
To create more catnip plants, take cuttings, and stick them into soil. They don't tend to root very well in just water, so keep that in mind when keeping them for a little while.
Things to Do with Catnip
- make tea with it (it's a bit minty, and tends to be very weak in flavour, but it helps with sedative)
- play with your cats!
- dry it
- an electric fan
- sheets of newspaper or similar thin paper products
- tape or thin wire (I like transparent packing tape and telephone wire)
- a one hole punch
- catnip (you can use stems/leaves and flower buds)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v202/astrangeone/Drying%20Herbs/GEDC0032.jpg (Tape Method)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v202/astrangeone/Drying%20Herbs/GEDC0033.jpg (Wire Method)
Fold paper into cup shapes using your origami skills. Tape shut or poke wires into the corners. Attach to the back of an electric fan with either the tape or the thin wire. (For the wire, punch holes through the paper cup.)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v202/astrangeone/Drying%20Herbs/GEDC0036.jpg (How to attach)
Wait for at least a couple of days, with the fan on. (One of the benefits of drying this way is the fact that your room is free of bugs when it's drying. The active ingredient in catnip is a powerful insect repellent.)
The finished product:
If anyone notices, this is not catnip - these are spearmint leaves. My catnip itself is in a stuffed animal.
Storing Dried Catnip
Dried catnip can be stored in plastic containers, in the fridge or the freezer. (I'm stuffing a toy full of catnip, and it just takes a little to be very good. The toy lives in the freezer, as my catnip plant is small and I have several more harvests to go.)