Baccy growing experiments

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.
Drying tobacco leaves
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.
Curing tobacco
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

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4 Responses to Baccy growing experiments

  1. Junican says:

    Hi Giolla.
    This is Junican from Bolton Smokers Club.

    If you have a sunny, warm asoect, hanging the leaves is just as good as towelling. But mould is a danger. The change from green to yellow needs to happen reasonably quickly. Towelling protects from mould.
    That is also true of wadding. But what I have found with wadding is that the tobacco is well fermented, much like pipe or cigar tobacco. Therefore, it is best used as part of a ‘blend’. I have blended it half and half with ordinary cigarette tobacco by cutting cigs in two and mixing my own stuff with that tobacco. But I am also experimenting with Virginia and Burley. Mixing with Burley seems to produce a stronger blend than I personally like, but Virginia seems to be really good.
    Good luck,

    • Giolla says:

      Hanging from fairy lights on the ceiling by the patio doors does seem to work well, and jst off shot in that picture is my wood stove which should keep that space usable later into the year. Lots of air flow so, so far mould hasn’t been an issue, though I did have some leaves that dried green.

      I’ll post an update when I’ve persuaded some “victims” to try it. One of my friends being daft has offered to try and smoke a chilli flavoured tobacco if I can make it

  2. Woman on a Raft says:

    Any thoughts on its use as an insect repellent/insecticide? I am also not a smoker but I’m always interested in the household applications of plants. If, for example, just having a couple of leaves hanging in the kitchen suddenly meant no flies trying to get in, that would be worth knowing.

    I’ve tried folk remedies such as bundles of melissa (lemon balm) and nettles but they have no discernable effect, leading me to conclude that it is a load of twaddle.

    • Giolla says:

      In it’s natural state given the number of insects I see on it, not convinced. However I made a strong tea of tobacco and rhubarb leaves which seemed to be very effective when sprayed on plants including to deter slugs and snails. I need to investigate that one more next year.

      Not sure about the hanging a couple of leaves in the kitchen idea though, will try it next year – though I’m doubtful about it. Also as the number of flies in my kitchen is low I’m not sure how I’d tell the difference. If you want to give it a go I’m happy to post you some fresh leaves either from what’s left this year or from next years crop.