Just before we reach the end of Octabber I thought it about time to post a short summary of my Tobacco production experiments so far this year. I entirely blame the inestimable LegIron for this endevour as his article on his efforts inspired me despite not actually smoking myself. I ordered some Virginia gold seeds from an interweb shop based on the fact that it’s what my father used to smoke so why not. I’m not exactly a keen gardener and planted them in pots so didn’t get particularly huge plants, I suspect they’re all root bound or don’t like my soil. However I’ve harvest enough leaves so far to experiment a little. For the drying process I found The Bolton smoking club terribly useful, and being a lazy chap I then ignored most of their advice and went for air drying, by hanging the leaves from the ceiling of my living room.
This worked quite well though for the second batch I removed the central spines first which resulted in much faster drying. For the curing stage I am actually following their advice and folding the leaves up into tight bundles, which seems to work as the bundles do smell quite distinctly like tobacco, though I’m waiting for friends to visit to determine how smokable it actually is. The problem I have on the curing side is that I have very little expereince of tobacco and can’t just smoke it to test so working out when it’s “ready” is a challenge, but there’s a lot of good advice out there some saying how easy it is some using jars and others getting really quite clever. I’ve so far stuck with tight bundles in tupperware in my airing cupboard which seems to work, as far as I can tell without smoking it.
The batch to the left is my second lot, on the right is the stuff I started off first and the small jar is an experiment. Apart from the fact that my plants didn’t grow terribly large, the whole process does seem fairly simple and not too labour intensive, and the stuff I’ve got so far certainly smells right. If I manage to harvest seeds from my bigger plants I’ll be giving it another go next year, though probably using bigger buckets from the get go and fewer plants as I need my garden for other things. This will of course depend on the verdict of my smoking friends, but if I can carry seed over from year to year I expect I’ll keep growing a couple of plants just to improve on my methods and to keep it going. After all if they do get round to imposing a ban on the sale of tobacco it’ll be a handy skill set, and in the mean time I can continue experimenting with other uses for the plants which are more in line with my interests like tobacco flower wine.
Update If growing your own isn’t an option remember there’s no duty on just buying the leaf