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About Catnip: History records that catnip was first grown in the Roman town of Nepeti, which explains its genus name, Nepeta.In early Britain before the arrival of Chinese tea, dried catnip made an excellent and popular tea; this tea also had legendary medical benefits for complaints such as fever, congestion, anxiety, or poor digestion. Its effect on the personality was supposed to have ranged from sedation, to courage, to fierce aggressiveness. One popular legend states that reluctant hangmen often chewed catnip leaves to give them courage for their task. A member of the mint family, catnip is extremely attractive to cats; in modern times, it is commercially produced primarily for pets.

Catnip Germination: Catnip grows best in well drained soil and full sun, though it can tolerate almost any soil. Direct sow the seeds after the last spring frost, planting them 1/4" deep in rows 20" apart; when the seedlings appear, thin to 12-15" apart.

Growing Catnip Seeds: Keep the soil uniformly moist until the seedlings are well established. Since cats will crush the seedlings, protection may be necessary until the plants have grown to a moderate height. Control weeds. Pinch off flower heads for more leaf growth.

Harvesting Catnip: Single leaves or stems can be harvested as soon as the plant reaches a height of 8". For best flavor, harvest in the morning after the dew has dried. Use fresh or dried; for best results, dry in an oven or dehydrator. Keep dried leaves in an airtight container.

Saving Catnip Seeds: Catmint prefers well drained soil and full sun, though it can grow quite well in almost any soil. Direct sow the seeds after the last spring frost, planting them 1/4" deep in rows 20" apart; when the seedlings appear, thin to 18-24" apart. Catmint also grows well as a container plant. In the garden, catmint repels pests such as ants, aphids, and mice.

Detailed Catnip Info: Nepeta cataria. Perennial. 80 days. Zone 3-9. 42,500 seeds per oz. 36-48" height. 12-15" spacing. Produces a square-stemmed plant with downy, medium green leaves and small spikes of pale lavender or white flowers.

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