Thursday, July 28, 2011

How long does it take to grow your own catnip?

Catnip plant growing and blooming in a sunny windowsill
Note the small flowers at the top of this plant.
I started growing catnip in the deep of winter, hoping I'd have a few sprouts available to give to Eamon as part of his 10th birthday celebration. As it turns out, I should have read the seed packet just a tiny bit more carefully.

While I started the catnip seeds at just the right time, the plants take a very, very long time to come to the adult stage. In fact, if you plant them outside in the early spring, you may not be able to harvest the plants until the fall rolls around.

The plants aren't considered truly "ripe" until they have produced a tiny pocket of seeds at the top of a pretty thick stalk. It can take months for a plant to grow like this, and it the place in which you're growing the plants is slightly chilly, the growing season is even more delayed. 

Here's how I know.

I have something like six catnip pots scattered about the house. All three of my cats are wild about catnip, but they don't seem to pay these plants any mind at all. In fact, the plant pictured above is located on a windowsill that sits right above Lucy's favorite napping chair. You'd think that she would smell the plant and head up to check it out, but she remains blissfully unaware of what is going on above her.

That probably means these 7-month-old plants aren't ripe yet. If they were, my cats would be feasting right now.

But I'm not ready to give up just yet. In fact, all of this may change this weekend when I snip off this blossom and give it to Eamon as a belated birthday present. I'm hoping he'll do as my previous cats have done and simply go wild for the fresh catnip. It's much more potent and fragrant that dried catnip, and cats often act like complete drug-addled fools when they're given a fresh stalk.

Don't fret. I'll keep the camera nearby.

I am hoping that this little taste won't cause the cats to investigate the remaining plants as they grow in their pots. These remaining plants are far from harvest-ready, and I don't want the cats to ruin my crop after my months of effort.