Drying Catnip and Bugs on Catnip
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Doug Shute
Posted on: September 07, 2007

I live in Halifax, NS, Canada and have started growing pesticide free catnip in small amounts for sale locally. I utilize a small greenhouse and my garden. Can you tell me how to recognize that catnip is as dry as it should be for maximum enjoyment by the cat?

The cats will love the catnip in any state of dryness, including fresh. However to prevent mould from ruining your crop, make sure it is so dry that it shatters when crushed. To package it, dry it to just before the shattering stage and store the package open during a day or two to allow it to dry completely. Close package when the catnip is quite dry. I have found that it will keep for a relatively short time, as the oils seem very volatile.

Secondly, I have noticed that catnip grown in my greenhouse is insect free while some of the herb in the garden gets infected by some sort of tiny, tiny black insect that eats the leaves from the underside. This happened early in the growing season. What is it and how do I control it without using a pesticide?

I cannot be sure from just your description of the insect what you have in your planting, but my guess would be a flea beetle. They tend to jump away when disturbed and I have found them on the wild catnip plants on my acreage. Try to get on top of the problem early in the season by spraying about three times a week apart with neem oil. Be sure to spray the surrounding area as well, so that the bugs don’t move in from elsewhere as soon as the rotten onion smell of the oil has dispersed. Since cats’ noses are better than ours, I would not use any of the sprayed portion of the plants even if you can no longer detect the smell. Hence the advice to spray early in the season. The upper portions will not have any traces of oil on them and will be great smelling for the cats.

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