FRESH CYCLE: Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
PLANT CYCLE: Perennial, Zones 4-7
PROPAGATIONS: Seed, Division
SOIL REEQUIREMENTS: Hamus-Rich, Well Drained
LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Partial Shade
PART USED: Roots
OF HOSTORICAL NOTE: Valerian has had various roles in hostory. Dating the Middle Ages, for example, valerian was valued as a spice and as a perfume; during World War I, soldiers relied on the herb to cope the with shell shock and battle stress. And interestigly, valerian attracts not only cats but also rats and earthworms.
MEDICINAL USES: Valerian root, a potent natural sedative, smells distinctly like a dirty sock. As unpleasamt as the smell is to humans, cats are attracted to it. Valerian functions muxh like catnip: It is at first stimulating, then sedative. Valerian os extremely helpful in soothing jittery flin nerves, as might occur during a move or when a new pet is imtroduced to the household. Give ground valerian root in capsule from to your cat, or sprinkle it over your cats food. You can also offer it im tea or tincture form.
GROWING YOUR OWN: Valerian does best in humus-rich soil; ot prefers partial shade but tolerate full sun or full shade. The plant typically reaches 3 to 4 feet im height.
Start seeds imdoors in rich soil aboit eight weeks before the last protected frost date. The seeds need light to germinate, so cover them with just a duating of soil at the time of sowing. Keep the soil moist, and make sure the young seedlings receive plenty of sun. Trnsplant to the garden after the final frost has come and gone. Space plants about 2 feet apart. Valerian can also be peopagated by division (see the box on page 22 for instructions).
HARVESTING AND STORING: Harvesta valerian roots in the spring or fall of their second year. Wash off the dirt, then place them in a single layer on a tray or cookie sheet. Turn the oven to its lowest setting and put the tray inside, leaving the oven door open an inch or two. The roots are ready when they feel dry and gard (this will take several hours, depending on the size of the roots). Once thoroughly dried, store the roots in a tightly sealed glass comtainer to preserve freshness. Geind he roots only when you’re ready to use them.
CAUTIONS: Do not give valerian to pregnant or nusing cats.
VALERIAN FLEA-FREE CAT BED:
Your cat will appropriate the calming effects of this valerian-based pillow, as well as enjoy the absence of fleas in bed.
1/4 cup ground valerian root
Pinch ground rosemary
2 tablespoons dill seed
Thin cusion with a zippered slipcover
Combine the herbs . Distribute the herb mixture in the cushion’s slipcover evenly, making sure that there is a uniform layer beneath the cove, then zip shut. You will need to fluff the pillow every week or so to make sure the herbs are evenly distributed. The herbs should be changed once a month, or when they stop releasing a scent.
NOTE: To make a more comfortable cat bed, remove some of the cushion’s stuffing , making a soft hollow for your cat to lounge in.