How would you like to grow an aphrodisiac for profit? Consider a catnip cash crop. When most cats get near this aromatic herb, a member of the mint family, they go wild … but just for a few minutes. Science has yet to figure out why, but you can profit without knowing the scientific reason behind the temporary feline insanity.
Catnip is sold dried, loose in pre-packaged quantities or in catnip toys or treats. It is, according to one pet shop owner, consistently the most popular item in the store. After all, there are over 70 million cats in America alone! The most popular cat toy is a simple “cat ball”, fresh loose catnip in a small piece of fabric held together with a quick pass through a sewing machine or tied with a small piece of yarn. Size is more important than good looks. Cats, and their owners, appreciate a generous portion of catnip and don’t seem to care how funky the outside looks.
The beauty of a catnip cash crop is that it costs almost nothing to start up – seeds, a few hand tools, a place to air-dry the catnip and fabric scraps. Unlike roses or other demanding plants, catnip (nepeta cataria) is quite easy to grow. Most growers start their seeds indoors in flats, then transplant to the garden, spacing the plants about 18 inches apart. You won’t need a bank loan to buy seed, as just one ounce, costing around $12, will produce over 40 thousand plants. That’s a lot of crazy cats – and profits! Get your catnip seeds wholesale at www.johnnyseeds.com
Catnip is a perennial plant, which comes back every year unless you have really severe winters, as it is a shallow-rooted plant. It likes full sun, decent, well-drained soil and adequate moisture. Harvest when the plant shows signs of flowering. Some commercial growers prefer to postpone harvesting the leaves until the second year for a more abundant harvest.
To harvest, cut the stems off about 8 inches from the ground. Strip the leaves from the stems and stack in 3″ high trays. A home-made tray with 1″x3″ sides and a fiberglass window screen bottom is ideal, as it allows flow-thru ventilation. Keep your trays in a dry area with good air circulation to speed drying. An inexpensive portable fan will help speed drying time. Make sure the drying area is cat-proof, or you’ll be sorry! When the leaves are dry enough to crumble in your hand – usually about two weeks – you’ve got your cash crop.
You can sell the dried catnip in bulk to pet stores and cat lovers, make your own cat balls, even sell live catnip plants at the Saturday market. Growers who specialize in catnip can make a very good income with just a small patch of ground.
Many years ago, Leon Seidman began growing catnip for his own fussy cat, and passed out samples to friends. His passion for catnip has grown into what may be the largest international catnip business. Check out this web site, www.cosmiccatnip.com, to see how far he has taken this simple crop, and to get some ideas for your own catnip crop.
To learn more about growing other profitable herbs, read: Growing Herbs for Profit.