July 21, 2012

Kitty Crack

At 10 o'clock this morning I found myself in Indiana with shears in hand. I couldn't pass up the offer for free, wild catnip for the taking. I've been wanting to learn about drying herbs, so why not start with free catnip? And make some cat toys to boot? 

Catnip is a perennial herb in the mint family. Other than its use in cat toys, the dried leaves and flowers can be used to make tea that supposedly has a mild sedative effect and acts as a natural antacid. The mildly minty, woodsy scent is produced by oils in the plant. To preserve the scent, the catnip must be dried (and later stored in an airtight container) where it will be protected from sunlight and heat.
Several sprawling plants are packed into my collection bag.
The leaves have a toothy edge.
Small flowers bloom in clusters and can be white, pink, or lavender in color.
Processed catnip (dead leaves and large stems removed) piled into a paper bag to dry.
Collecting discarded bits to add to the compost pile.
With the catnip from Indiana as illustration, the hubbers realized the wild mint overtaking our landlord's landscaping is actually catnip.
And since catnip shrinks at least 50% during the drying process, I got out the shears and cut more.
It has hollow, square shaped stems.
Processing the bonus catnip.
Picking off dead leaves by hand.
I ran out of paper bags to serve as light blocking drying bins. I'm going to loosely wrap the rest of the catnip in dark colored sheets and possibly hang the bundles in the garage.
More detritus for the compost bin. Two hours in and I've processed about 2/3 of my take.

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