I grew cigar tobacco for the first time last year. Planting tobacco is weird because the seeds need to lay on top of the soil, instead of being covered or buried.
I had more seedlings than I could keep, so I pulled the stragglers out with tweezers. The remaining plants continued to grow until it was time to transplant them outside.
I built a 4′x4′ box for the plants to sit in. The plants had cut-off plastic milk jugs on top of them while their roots settled.
I put too many plants outside as insurance against failure. They succeeded, and the smaller plants began to take resources from the stronger ones.
I needed to thin out the plants to give the stronger ones room to grow. I had no space to put the smaller plants, and ended up discarding them.
I didn’t use any chemicals on the plants. I ran my fingers against the leaves to stop bugs in problematic areas. Squirrels and birds stayed away from the plants.
I had five plants total. They started growing really quickly in July.
I was torn between two plants during the thinning process, so I filled a bucket with dirt and kept both.
The plants were still small in the beginning of August. I worried about the seasons changing.
The August heat fixed everything.
There are a few tidbits to know about growing tobacco:
- Little leaves will sprout off at the top of the plant. These “suckers” should be plucked off, since they won’t mature and will only remove energy from the important leaves.
- A leaf will begin to yellow slightly when it’s ready to be picked. The leaf will snap off if it’s ready to be plucked.
- Plucking the small lower leaves is good — the goal is let the large leaves grow as big as possible.
The bucket plant began to wilt in August. It stopped wilting in September.
I pulled off a majority of the leaves in early September. I took this picture after pulling a big group of leaves (which has since become the little image on the right-side of this blog.)
The plants were almost completely bare at this point, but lived and continued to produce suckers. I decided to battle them out of the ground in November.
I hung the leaves in bundles. They’re still drying now. I’ll roll them into cigars the same way I did when I made them the first time.
I threw the plants in the shed too (which is known as “whole-stalk harvesting”.) I’m starting this year’s crop now in hopes of getting larger plants. I’m trying cotton this year too, and will post about that in the future.