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Nepeta cataria, Catnip


Catmint is a good companion plant to grow in the garden. It is said to repel various cabbage pests, aphis (including peach aphis), flea beetles, cucumber beetles, squash bugs and ants from plants they grow near to.

The plant is said to deter insects such as ants and flea beetles as well as rats and mice. A strong infusion can be used to repel fleas from carpets or the fur of animals. An extract from the leaves (called nepetalactone) has herbicidal and insect repellent properties.

Catmint has a long history of use as a household herbal remedy, being employed especially in treating disorders of the digestive system and, as it stimulates sweating, it is useful in reducing fevers. The herbs pleasant taste and gentle action makes it suitable for treating colds, flu and fevers in children. It is more effective when used in conjunction with elder flower (Sambucus nigra).

The dried leaves retain their fragrance and can be used in pot-pourri.

Easily grown in a light sandy soil in a sunny position. Succeeds in heavier soils if the drainage is very good.

Plants are hardy to about -25°c. The flowers are very attractive to bees.

Best sown in a cold frame in the autumn. The germination of spring sown seed can be erratic, it is best sown in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.

Edible uses:

Young leaves - raw. A mint-like flavour, they make an aromatic flavouring in salads.

Older leaves are used as a flavouring in cooked foods. They can be used fresh or dried to make an aromatic herb tea. The tea should be infused in a closed container in order to preserve the essential oils, boiling is said to spoil it.


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