Grow Your Own Catnip

Some cats are fools for catnip. Just a whiff of this mysterious mint turns many of them into zany, weaving, silly clowns. (Caution: It may even be addictive, so it's best offered only on an occasional basis.)

Learn how to grow your own catnip. Believe us, Kitty will thank you.

Start with seeds. You can usually get a packet for a couple of dollars from a local nursery or home supply store.

Plant outside. Sow the seeds in rows 18 inches apart in a garden or in one row down the middle of a flower box at least 16 inches wide and 10 inches deep. Plant in well-worked soil and in an area that receives moderate to strong sun. The seeds are fine, like basil seeds, so you might want to mix them with sand for easy sowing.

Mulch. The plants prefer rich soil but will settle for almost any soil as long as it's mulched with hay, dried lawn clippings, straw, or cocoa hulls.

Harvest. Catnip grows quickly and can reach a few feet high in a few months. When the plant reaches at least 18 inches high and has thumb-size leaves, but before it turns yellow, strip the leaves or cut the entire stalks.

Dry. Tie the stalks together and hang them upside down in the shade for a couple of days. Or lay the leaves on old newspaper in the shade.

Play. Bring a stalk out for the cats to rub against or roll on. Or crumble dried leaves and/or stems and tie them into four-inch squares of material using cotton string or thread. The cats will bat them, bite them, and possibly eat the contents.

If you want to get really fancy, try stitching up a homemade cat toy. Use a laundry marker to add eyes and whiskers if you like. Stuff the toy with crumbled dried catnip (mixed with dried lentils if you don't have enough) before stitching the thing closed. Use a glue gun to attach some felt ears. Voila! A catnip mouse.

Need more feline fun? Join other cat-lovers on these message boards:

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