How to Grow Your Own Tobacco
Written by James Payne

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

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Once the plants are between six and eight inches, it is time to plant them in your plot. As you will recall from the beginning of this article, you will want to give your plants ample room to breathe, planting them 24 inches apart, and separating your rows by fifty inches or so. Water your plants well as soon as you plant them, then as needed as they grow.

You might consider using plant food, and you will certainly need to fertilize your tobacco. Look for fertilizer suitable for peppers and tomatoes, with very little (or no) chlorine. You’ll want to fertilize the soil prior to planting, but not so much so that it overwhelms the roots of your plants. As the season continues, keep fertilizing the plants, keeping them green, but also being sure not to overdo it. If your plants seem to grow too rapidly or big, you are likely overdoing it. Once you see the first flowers bloom, quit fertilizing – your plants should not need any more.

Topping Your Plant

Once your first flowers begin to bloom, it is time to top your plant. Topping is the process of removing the flowers so that the plant focuses its energy on the upper leaves of the tobacco plant. Simply cut the terminal bud with some sheers or use your hand.

You will also want to remove suckers from your leaves shortly after this (when they are about an inch in length). Check your plants during the season, and remove the suckers anytime they should return.

Harvesting and Curing

The next step would be to harvest your leaves. You want to do this 3-4 weeks after you top your plant. There are two methods you can use, picking the leaves (if you choose this method, harvest the plants 2 weeks after topping instead), or by cutting the stalk from the bottom of the plant. For our conversation, we will assume that you are cutting the entire stalk.

After harvesting you will need to cure the leaves, removing impurities from them. Since we are doing this out of our home, the ethodology differs greatly from a normal manufacturer. If you have a barn or shed with good air circulation, you should be all set. You will want the temperature in the shed to range between 60-95 degrees with a relative humidity of 65-70 percent. If you find the humidity level is too high or too low, you can open or close the door intermittently until the level adjusts itself. You will need to experiment to achieve the desired effect.

Normally you will want to cure your tobacco for eight weeks. Since we said we were cutting the whole stalk down, you will want to run some wire or string in the barn, and hang your stalk from that. After the eight weeks has passed and your tobacco is cured, you can then remove the tobacco leaves and get them ready for aging.

The aging process for home grown tobacco is a hotly debated issue. I’ve seen people say that you do not need to age it, suggesting you go ahead and roll the cigar, then place it in your humidor for a few months. I’ve also heard people say they age theirs for 5-6 years.

Both of these thoughts seem to me to be overblown; I would suggest aging your homegrown between 6 months and a year.

The entire process to age and cure tobacco is another article in and of itself, but I think it is important that you understand the time it takes to grow your own tobacco with the intent of smoking it.

If, after having read this article you are still entertaining the idea, then I suggest you wait for the next installment on this series, and also go out and do some more research from other writers, or ask other smokers in the forums about their own experiences with the aging and curing processes. 


0 # Really enjoyed this articleJon Caputo 2009-07-15 03:31
Thanks James!

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0 # great articleslyder 2009-07-17 08:13
i want a garden but think tomatos and corn is boring. This would make the neighbors talk!!

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+1 # interestingJonathan Garlow 2009-07-18 00:09
I am a native american and have a bunch of traditional seeds of tobacco normally used for ceremonies but I'm going to try rolling my own cigars with it and see what it smokes like. Might be really strong. Interesting that this article is so timely for me.

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