Tobacco needs a frost-free period between three to four months and a temperature of 68° to 86° F (20° to 30° C). It should achieve full growth without heavy rainfall, otherwise excess water results in a thin and flaky yield.
Organic tobacco comes from whole leaf tobacco which is raw, without chemicals, and in its natural form. Tobacco companies administer additives in the manufacturing process chemicals are mixed with the tobacco leaves to produce tobacco products. The mixture results in a potent nicotine content that makes it addictive and a source of certain health conditions.
We’re not saying that there will be no nicotine if you grow your own tobacco because tobacco has nicotine. By growing your own tobacco plant, you will have access to an organic product without the chemicals used by manufacturers. And growing tobacco is a strenuous process, we would like to help you out with this guideline.
What You’ll Need to Grow Tobacco
Just like any undertaking, you need to have a full grasp of the fundamentals before starting. In growing tobacco, you’ll need these…
- Choose your tobacco seeds, there are myriad varieties for your picking such as; Oriental, Burley, Kentucky, Havana, Woodland, Virginia, Wild Aztec, and more. Keep children or pets away because the nicotine in tobacco is deadly.
- Containers to plant the seed. You need not look far. There are vessels at home that you can put to good use like egg trays, basins, ice cream tubs with punched holes at the bottom to drain water.
- A mixture of fine soil and sand for your potting soil
- A bucket to soak the seedlings.
- A small spot in your garden or indoors with suitable weather conditions to grow seedlings.
- A space in the outdoors to transplant and set the seedlings with a separation of at least two feet from each plant. Tobacco plants will grow well in partially shaded spots.
How to Start Tobacco Seeds?
Starting tobacco from seeds isn’t easy, tobacco seeds are minute a pinch covers hundreds of budding plants. When they germinate into seedlings they are very tiny that is why it is not advisable to plant seeds directly into the soil in your garden.
- Start growing your tobacco seeds indoors, they need a higher temperature in the germination phase.
- Fill containers with potting soil, do not use garden soil. Soak soil and drain before seeding.
- Sprinkle 2-3 seeds on top of the moistened soil, don’t cover with dirt.
- Drizzle the seed lightly using a spray bottle and cover the container loosely with a plastic film. Leave a space open or puncture the plastic to allow air exchange.
- Place the container in a well-lit space where the temperature is constant between 70-80 degrees.
- Continuously spray the container and keep the potting mix moist at all times.
- In about two to three weeks the seeds will sprout. Remove the plastic cover and transplant the plantlets to larger containers, always keep the soil moist without over watering and the temperature constant.
- When the plantlets reach about 10 mm or four inches high and the danger of frost has passed, it’s time to transplant them outside.
- Separate each plant about two feet apart. Keep the soil moist until the plant has established normal growth, it’ll need less water when it has settled.
How to Care for Tobacco Plants?
Most tobacco plants develop to about three feet high and wide with beautiful, sweet-scented blossoms that flourish in summer. They need lots of nutrients and water during the spring and summer months to thrive. Be careful when handling the tobacco plant, all parts are poisonous.
Thoroughly water the recently transplanted plantlet every night during the first week in the absence of rainfall. After that, water the tobacco plants well two to three times a week to compensate for the lack of rainfall. Keep the soil moistened to the roots to avoid getting dry.
During summer and spring provide the tobacco plants each month with a fertilizer rich in nitrogen and potassium.
Remove the weeds crowding the base of the plant, these will affect the growth of the tobacco tree. Hoe every two to four weeks or whenever there is a presence of weed.
Practice crop rotation, tobacco feeds heavily and will deplete the soil of nutrients. Plant the spot with tobacco every two years, and in-between raise other plants like tomatoes and eggplants.
Keep the nasty critters away by making your own insect repellent with a concoction of cigarette butts and water they’ll surely hate you for this.
Wear gloves when handling tobacco since all parts are poisonous.
After four to five months the tobacco plants are ready for harvest, time to enjoy the smoke of your labor.
Harvesting and Curing Your Tobacco
As the tobacco plant reaches full growth flower heads will appear at the top of the plant. This is an indication that the leaves are ready for harvest, if there are signs of yellowing pick them immediately. The curing time is up to you, you can leave it hanging for a year or two to age it and improve the taste and flavor. Or for a couple of months until it has a nice color and texture and use it straight away.
- Choose the leaves that are ripe for picking, use a knife to carve a slit close to the stem end of the middle rib of each leaf.
- Insert a tomato stick to each slit about an inch apart so the leaves will dangle once the stake is held horizontally. You can use wires or cords extended between two nails.
- Hang these sticks or strings in a secluded, dry, and warm space.
- The leaves should not come in contact with each other or any object.
- Prevent the leaves from getting moldy or brittle. To avoid mold the curing space should be well ventilated or maintain a nine-inch space between sticks. Transfer the sticks to a cooler place if they’re getting brittle or spray them with water.