Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nip or Mint?

I’m sure my neighbor was relieved to see the rose bed go from muddy pit to tilled paisley last Sunday. It took me 5 hours to level the bed (I had a pile of dirt from my initial attempt at double-digging), till the hardpan, work in peat moss, dig three 18” x 18” holes, amend the fill, and plant the three Julia Child roses. Later that day, I came home from Anne’s house with iris divisions and added those too. This weekend, I buried 10 lily bulbs and plugged in a few sweet alyssum seedlings. All that’s missing is the catmint.

To obtain enough catmint to edge the entire bed, without breaking the bank, I grew my catmint from seed. I also grew catnip from seed. This would not have been a problem, except that the writing faded/washed away from the containers and I can’t tell the nip from the mint seedlings.

Last week, I got the brilliant idea to use the cats to tell them apart. They should have a strong reaction to catnip, and a not-so-strong reaction to catmint. That plan failed when they tried to eat ALL the seedlings. I’m now operating under the assumption that the taller, more blue-gray seedlings are mint and the shorter, more yellow-green seedlings are nip (and that my cats are equally attracted to them both).

Realizing that my seedlings didn’t have a chance of surviving to adulthood if I planted them directly into the rose bed, I transplanted a number of them into recycled cell packs to grow up big and strong. Sadly, I had to cage them with my compost sifter to keep Mr. Tibbs from nibbling on them. He did his best to snare himself a snack, but my lofty human ingenuity won in the end. Mwa-hah-hah!

I’m still a bit worried about getting the catmint established even once they are larger. I may have to lock my narcotics-crazed cats up for a day or so after planting until the bruised leaves heal and the tell-tale volatile oils evaporate. Or I can just distract them with the oodles of catnip I’m growing too. Of course, that all assumes that I can tell one Nepeta from the another!


Blogger Jenn said...

Start thinking now... you will want some sort of cage or other protection around those seedlings until they are *very* well establised.

I've had luck with using the wire frame hanging baskets, upside down over the plant, pinned with a few homemade pins (wire coat hangers and a wire cutter, cut the hook part off, then cut the middle of the long piece, you now have two landscape pins!)

If they don't eat them down to the ground, they will roll them into oblivion.

But next year they should come up okay... this year is the toughie...

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Good luck, heh-heh. I have several "mystery" winter-sown pots. Luckily, none are as tough as nip v. mint.

Is my cat odd? He totally ignored the catnip I grew in a pot last year. Once I cut some and dried it, he was all over it. But the fresh – nothing. Some neighborhood cats definitely enjoyed it as it was covered in cat hair all summer long. :)

9:15 AM  
Blogger JLynnette said...

We have enough cats in the neighborhood that I lost my cat nip the first year. Now they've started on the Spearmint. Every morning there is a tell-tale wallowed out spot.

Good luck!

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I have no good advice, but I wanted to say that I giggled at the second picture, of your kitty lounging on the box. Obviously he's just waiting for you to free his new addiction--er, the nip/mint--from its cage!

3:15 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I started catnip from seed this year--we'll see how long it lasts. The other day my Darlings opened the cabinet where I keep their stash of dried catnip, filched the bag, and dumped (and chewed) it all over the laundry room. When I got home from work, there were four stoned cats stumbling around the house. It was rather amusing, after I cleaned up the mess. (Zoey doesn't come into the kitchen, so she didn't get any.)

I'm half tempted just not to buy them anymore, especially if the sweet little addicts will go through such lengths to get their fix. :)

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have both catmint and catnip and my cats won't have anything to do with the catmint. I have had catnip for several years and dry it for them besides giving them fresh throughout the growing season. Plus I crochet little mouse shapes and fill them with dried catnip and a little cotton and a piece of some seed pods I found that makes a little rattle noise when shaken.
I live in coyote country so my cats are all indoors so cats don't cause a problem. I do have the catnip plants caged because as soon as the plants bloom the quail will eat the plants to the ground.
I was looking to see if anyone had a use for the catmint. I have a well established patch that is sending seeds everywhere and is popping up in my catnip and other places. It's not that I don't like the plant, but it does seem to take over. With my plants, the catnip grows straight up and has lavendar flowers the mint falls over and has dark purple flowers on a smaller stock.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Adi said...

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8:22 AM  

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