View Full Version : Growing your own tobacco
02-27-2011, 08:43 AM
I recently read an article in the New York Times about a woman who grows her own tobacco. It made it sound relatively straightforward. I've been thinking about trying this for a while, so I guess this is a good year to pull the trigger. Anyone done this before?
02-27-2011, 08:51 AM
As far as I have ever done, growing it is easy enough, as long as you have a bit of space. I grew it around the periphery of my garden to discourage critters and decided to harvest it for smoking.
A) It didn't discourage any critters
B) It seems I, at least, have a lot to learn about curing tobacco. :mad3:
02-27-2011, 08:57 AM
I used to frequent a cigar store that had some growing indoors in pots ... I've considered growing some indoors myself, but I have a black thumb.
I don't think it would be cost-effective to grow it with intent to smoke it. As MoreSaltThanPepper noted, the curing process is quite involved.
02-27-2011, 09:07 AM
I've only grown and used Indian tobacco (N. glauca), but here is some info. from Richo Cech (Horizon Herbs):
Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)
(Virginia Smoking Tobacco)
Family: Nightshade (Solanacea)
Annual. 80 days to maturity. Native to the New World. This is a very mellow smoking tobacco that matures readily, even if the summer is cool or the growing season short. Flowers lavender to 5 feet. Highly recommended. Sow seed in the spr4ing or early summer in flats or in a fine seed bed. Press hard into surface (light dependent germinator) and keep warm and evenly moist until germination. Germ in 10 to 14 days. Transplant or thin seedlings to 1 to 2 foot spacing. The plant likes full sun and moderate water and prefers to grow in a well-fertilized soil (chicken manure) and a side dressing of compost or more manure will really boost yield.
Organically grown 100 seeds/pkt.
On the curing of tobacco: I used to visit Charles Perry's tobacco farm in Kentucky and he cured plenty of tobacco. I ended up growing my own and adapting his wholesale methods to my home situation. It worked a treat! There are many different methods, but the easiest is to pick the leaves when they get a tinge of yellow on them, then hang them in an open shed or under the eaves. You can string them on a piece of bailing wire or strong string. Set it up so that the leaves dry out during the day and pick up moisture at night. This is how they cure. Once the leaves have lost all green and are a golden brown (which takes a month or two), you wait until they are flexible some cloudy day or evening or early morning and lay them out on your knee (while you're sitting down of course) alternating stem to tip for 7 leaves. Then you tightly roll them together like a big Cigar and then gently twist the cigar, each end in an opposite direction, which gives you the typical "twisty" or "plug." This you hang to dry in the warm shade with positive airflow. It will take a few days to dry completely. Don't store the plug in plastic or glass until it is very dry or it will mold. If you cut throught the plug with a sharp knife or a razor blade, shaving off a little at a time, you make the typical crinkly product known as tobacco, which can be smoked in a pipe or rolled (and has no chemicals). Mighty smooth.
02-27-2011, 09:13 AM
Terrific rundown, Ken.
02-27-2011, 09:23 AM
Wow, great info, docfitch! I've got a shed to hang them in. I'm trying to think about how to ensure that in the second stage of drying, you can be sure that your location has "positive airflow"? I've got a shed that has a door to it and a little window. Would keeping a window open be enough?
02-27-2011, 09:28 AM
Isn't growing tobacco in Virginia a bit like sewing your own clothes in the Garment district? :biggrin:
02-27-2011, 09:36 AM
Wow, great info, docfitch! I've got a shed to hang them in. I'm trying to think about how to ensure that in the second stage of drying, you can be sure that your location has "positive airflow"? I've got a shed that has a door to it and a little window. Would keeping a window open be enough?The wind isn't always blowing ... I'd keep the door closed, and install a small fan to ensure constant airflow from outside.
02-27-2011, 09:55 AM
John, I suppose it is! Maybe that's why it's fun. Good idea on the fan dpm802. For some reason, I was envisioning a pre-electricity world!
02-27-2011, 10:04 AM
For some reason, I was envisioning a pre-electricity world!
Same as me, actually. I grew up in southern Ontario, tobacco sheds for miles, curing tobacco smell and grasshoppers buzzing in the late summer sun.
02-27-2011, 10:20 AM
Hope this doesn't bust your bubble, but you are unlikely to grow anything worth smoking beyond mediocre cigarette tobacco. You won't get any quality cigar tobacco from what you grow; maybe a great smelling ornamental plant, but that's it. The only place in the U.S. for cigar tobacco is certain areas in Connecticut; some of the best wrapper leaf comes from a small valley there. All of the quality cigar tobacco is grown in climates like Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Cameroon. Notice that they all share somewhat similar climates. Some of the southern states grow excellent cigarette and pipe tobacco, but that's it.
02-27-2011, 10:30 AM
I surely had no luck but I don't see why it wouldn't work for someone who sets up their growing area properly, even bucket planters in an apartment. Mine grew just fine here in frozen Alberta but my issues were around curing.
02-27-2011, 10:47 AM
This is just an exercise in fun. I won't be upset if it is less than top quality! Having said that, I want to take reasonable steps to ensure its decent quality.
02-27-2011, 10:51 AM
It ought to be good fun to try. Get some pics as it develops so we can see them too.
02-27-2011, 11:09 AM
Pics will be a must. Or it didn't happen!
02-27-2011, 02:54 PM
I have nothing useful to add, but I'd love to see regular updates on your progress.
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