Archive for March, 2010
Mr. MoonCat has been toiling tirelessly (do I get extra points for that?) getting our veggie garden up and running. He spent much time plotting and planning:
I’ve been pretty busy this week with just about everything under the sun – literally as we’ve (Mr. MoonCat that is) has the garden pretty much up and running. Since I’m tired and not very wordsmithy – here’s some pictures. Have a great weekend and DON’T FORGET – Earth Hour is tomorrow night at 8:30pm local – TURN OUT YOUR LIGHTS FOR 1 HOUR!
Tomorrow, March 21, 2010 is the date that has been designated as World Forestry Day. It coincides with the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and the vernal equinox in the Northern.
This worldwide observance was a product of the 23rd General Assembly of the European Confederation of Agriculture in 1971. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization put its stamp of approval on it later that year as they recognized the value of having a day every year (March 21st) to direct the world’s attention to the importance of protecting and nourishing our forests. Conservation is a predominant theme in the celebrations. It promotes awareness and encourages communities to plant and manage trees that are native to the area.
Many people immediately think of a forest as just a lot of trees. They miss out on the fact that it is an entire living community that consists of several layers and micro-communities. The trees are the backbone of a forest, but it takes many types of flora and fauna to make it whole.
What can you do to celebrate and acknowledge World Forestry Day?
- Plant a tree!
- If that’s not feasible, go and visit a local forest. Spend the afternoon walking in the woods, enjoying nature and paying attention to the diverse forms of life that a forest truly is.
- Learn about the contributions forests make to your life. Think about the different things that surround you that are the product of a forest.
- Just enjoy nature.
For more information, you can visit these sites:
Latin Name: Nepeta of the family Lamiaceae
Alternate Name(s): Catmint
Description: Perennial herb that grows to about 3 or 4 feet high. Some varieties are grown as annuals. Catnip leaves are a greenish gray or green heart shape and grow opposite each other on sturdy stems. The tube shaped flowers grow in clusters towards the stem ends and can be in various colors such as blue, pink, white or lavender.
Habitat: Catnip grows extensively and originates in Africa, Asia and Europe but is also very easy to find in the United States and the rest of North American now.
Growing: Extremely easy to grow from seed. To get an early jump on Spring, you can start the seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your neck of the woods. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep moist. If you cover the pots with plastic this will aid in keeping the humidity up. It is very important to not let them dry out – now or once they’ve sprouted. Keep the pots in a warm location until the seeds have sprouted. Once they’re up, put them in a sunny place until they are big enough to plant outside. It is best to gradually introduce them to being outside in the wind and sunshine. Above all, keep them moist. Catnip sucks up lots of water for its entire life cycle.
Full sun is a requirement, but in areas like mine where the heat can get well up into three digits, the plant pretty much needs to sit in a bowl of water during the day or it will not perform at its best. It will handle short periods of drought, but it will definitely affect the growth.
I have found that in our area my plant will stay somewhat green most of the winter if in a sheltered spot with a lot of light (and if I keep it watered). I am pretty ruthless in pruning the plant back to the ground when it warms up in Spring which will make my plant come back bushier and fuller than before. This will also help it to produce more buds.
You can also find catnip plants at local garden stores in the Spring, but you need to be sure you get the right variety Nepeta cataria as some of the plants you find might be more suited towards ornamental uses. They don’t give your cats as much pleasure as the cataria variety. The seeds may also be labeled as Common Catnip which should be the cataria.
I personally keep my catnip in pots. It will reseed itself as well as come back from the previous years plant. Because it is of the mint family, it can become invasive if not monitored. I just prefer to keep it in check to start with.
Harvesting: I regularly give my cats fresh leaves from the many catnip plants I have growing around our place. Once the plant is established (about a foot or so tall), I start harvesting from it. The buds are extremely potent for the cats and they enjoy the heck out of them along with the leaves.
Harvesting is best done in the early mornings after the dew has evaporated and before it gets too warm. Depending on what I’m going to do with it, I will usually cut several stems with leaves and buds and hang them to dry. I bundle them up and tie them with string or a rubberband and then I use clothespins to hang them in a large closet to dry. It is a good idea to have somewhere secure from your furry friends to dry catnip as they can do amazing feats to get to a bunch hanging above them. Once dried I will store the bundles in labeled glass canning jars until I have need of them.
Uses: To provide our domestic felines with a legal, euphoric high. Most cats will start rolling in, eating, and drooling over catnip or catnip toys. They will play and have bouts of craziness until they flop over and sleep for an hour or two. Some major studies are being conducted to determine the effects on the big cats (lions, tigers, jaguars, etc.).
Catnip has been shown to be an insect repellant for humans. It is being used in many natural preparations and where DEET is not desirable.
A lovely mint tea can be made from catnip. It is interesting that it tends to have a soothing effect like chamomile for us instead of the over-caffeinated buzz that the cats get from it.
Notes: The photos of the kitties above are from a recent treat I gave my furbabies. I have a few different varieties of catnip/catmint and was experimenting on which they like the best. It proved for me that the Nepeta cataria is definitely the one with the most “juice”! The cats LOVE it. Actually, 8 of 9 endorse it. My old cat Sheena will have nothing to do with it. I just wish I’d taken a photo of them all sacked out on the futon after this episode. They were all passed out in a row for about an hour. Quiet time for Mommy!
Check out my article: Catnip – Crank for Cats for some more personal insight on kitties & catnip
I will be offering some of our organically grown catnip as well as our homemade cat toys in the near future.
But for now, a quick and easy cat toy that will provide hours of enjoyment for your furry babies can be made in minutes. Take an old (closely woven) sock that has lost its mate and stuff the toe with dried catnip. Tie a tight knot in the top and let them have it. Recycling, reusing, and repurposing at its best! (Plus some major kitty fun)
Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational, informational, and recreational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other substances.
I was a winner in the Halloween Queens Castle Bootique grand opening giveaway at the beginning of the month. My lovely prize came from Lorraine at PieCaKe PRiMiTiVeS. Isn’t this ornament adorable? As soon as I’m finished with the sewing/craft/office room (a whole ‘nother blog post to come), this little cutie will be hanging up in there, making me smile. Please be sure to check out Lorraine’s art dolls – they are really unique and very creative.