What You Need To Know Before Growing Tobacco At Home
By Guest Contributor Jim Anderson
Regardless of you being a smoker or not, if you have been toying with the idea of growing tobacco at home, you’re in luck. While growing tobacco at home is legal in most parts of the world, selling is prohibited. Also, before you start investing time, effort and money, you may want to check with your local authorities, just to be on the safe side.
All good? Great. On with the lesson.
Growing your own tobacco can be a fun exercise, and if you happen to smoke, it can save you loads of money in the long-run. If not, it looks great as an ornamental piece in your garden too!
The best part is, growing tobacco is a lot similar to growing other plants. However, you do have to put in some extra effort to cure, age and process the tobacco without the type of resources that large organisations have.
Now that we’ve set your expectations straight, let’s delve deeper.
Here’s what you need to know before growing tobacco at home:
What you need
As in the case of any venture, leave alone gardening, you must have a firm grasp of the basics. In the case of growing tobacco, you must have a clear idea of what you need to get started. You will need:
- A bit of space in your garden
- Fine soil
- Suitable weather conditions
- Tobacco seed or transplants - If you’re unable to get transplants, you will have to opt for seeds and start from scratch.
- Container to plant the seeds
- Spray bottle
Suitable weather conditions for growing tobacco
The best tobacco is grown in warm, dry climate. You must schedule your transplanting and harvesting so that the cold winter months don’t coincide with your gardening. Three to four months of frost-free weather is crucial. The ideal temperature is between 20° and 30° C, and direct sunlight is necessary. Lack of sufficient sunlight will result in thin leaves and poor growth.
The good news is, tobacco grows well in almost any type of soil that is favourable for agriculture. Bonus points if your garden has soil that drains well. However, if your soil doesn’t drain well, if you’ve got ditches and burrows that are capable of removing excess water, it’ll do.
A key thing to remember is that you must not plant tobacco in soil that is infested with diseases and weeds, or is already filled with plants such as tomatoes and pepper. The reason being, the latter two are highly susceptible for pest attacks, which can gradually latch on to your tobacco also. All types of grass would be ideal.
One other thing you need to watch for is the pH level of your soil. A pH level of 5.8 is recommended. If too low, you can use dolomite to increase the pH level.
Type of seeds
With the range of tobacco seeds that are available, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to placing your order. Remember, every type of seed, if dried and cured differently or mixed with other varieties will have a significant effect on the smell and taste of your output. Once you have an idea of your preferences, drop a line to dealers and ask them for their advice.
Interesting fact – Tobacco seeds are very tiny; you’ll get 300,000 or more in just one ounce!
Since tobacco seeds are tiny and delicate, it’s best if you sow them in a greenhouse, or a protected segment of your garden. If you’re out to get only a few transplants you can use a container like a flower pot. Sow your seeds about 50-60 days before transplanting, with no sign of winter around the corner.
Sprinkle the seeds on the surface and ensure there is a good supply of water (but not excessive). A bit of fertilizer with little or no chlorine and nitrogen in nitrate form would be ideal. You can even use the same which you use on your other plants in your garden.
Transplanting tobacco requires the same approach as other garden plants. If you are using your garden space, instead of a pot, space the plants about 24 inches apart. Water the plants adequately after transplanting.
Once you’re atop of all the above steps, you’re well on your way to growing your own tobacco. However, keep in mind that your work’s still not complete. You’ve got to be weary of fertilization, pest control, topping, harvesting, curing and aging to name a few. It is a long process, but well worth it. If you find it’s too much there are some places that sell cigars online that you can purchase already made ones from. Are you going to try growing your own tobacco?
Jim Anderson is a passionate cigar enthusiast who enjoys a cigar in his spare time away from his children. He works for Fine Cigars Australia and is a loving father of three beautiful kids. He also enjoys surfing and wants to travel the world in his lifetime.
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