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Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Two day old Virginia tobacco seedlings. For reference we are just using a cap to show how small the seedlings are. This year we started seeds in a shallow tray instead of trying to get plants started in a small plugs. This way was way better as instead of a few I have hundreds. These will be allowed to grow for a couple of weeks I am guessing before I pick the best ones and transplant into net cups. All four tobacco seeds have germinated so things are looking good for this year.



--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

March 10, 2015 at 12:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Tobacco seedlings are now 3.5 weeks old and the experiment between dirt and a modified hydroponic growing is starting to show the hydroponic plants are bigger. To review I started the seeds out in flats this year and got a 100 fold better germination. About two weeks after the seedlings sprouted and 2nd set of leaves appeared I transplanted to 2 inch net cups. You can get these cups at hydroponic grow shops and they can be used to grow better root systems. I purchase a mess of plastic storage containers, drilled holes in the lids and put enough water in so that when I set the net cups in they can pull water up through the potting mix and feed and water the seedlings.

 

I also planted some tobacco in just cups with potting mix, these I have to water daily and I still left a mess of plants in the flats after thinning them. I call the plants in the flats the "Farm Team" as I will use them to replace any plants that to not make it in the net cups or dirt cups. I have about 120 plants growing right now and as time goes on I will thin them down to the thirty plants that I will be planting. So far the hydroponic plants are growing much better then the dirt or flat plants.

 

I am using this same hydroponic / net cup growing for a lot of my garden plants this year and the tomato and peppers are growing really well. I expect they will be transplanted into growing containers and will get a head start on summer in the green house. My next step with the tobacco will be to see how long I can keep them in the net cups before I have to transplant to a larger cup.

 

This is not a true hydroponic growing set up as I have modified it for just growing seedlings. I am doing a couple of things here by growing the seedlings this way. I am making a long tap root as the seedling will search for water and another thing I am doing is what is called Air Pruning. Most of the plant is not in the water so what happens is the plant grows roots and when they hit the open air they self prune and stop growing. They then sent out new roots that grow till they to hit the air and stop. This gives a nice root ball instead of the root bound plants you see when you take them out of plastic cups. When plants grow in the plastic cups they hit the plastic and then circle around the inside of the cup. At least that is the idea of having a plant just partially in the water. Not to mention I don't have to water the plants nearly as much and the plants don't run out of water.



Net Cup plants



The 2015 Farm Team


--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

March 31, 2015 at 3:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Tobacco update time, for ease we are just going to say the tobacco is 6 weeks old even though they are a few days shy of that mark. A couple of pictures here to show you that in just the last two weeks the plants have taken off in their semi hydra pots and as you can see we will have no problem in having plants to plant this season.

 

 

 

 

The farm team is no more as I had to do something that all garden people hate and that is toss healthy plants but I just do not have the room for all of the plants. I have reduced the potted plants from 120 to about sixty now and of the sixty perhaps 30-40 will make their way into the ground. The farm team of several hundred plants were destroyed as I think I will not need any backups. Comparing this years plants to last years these are much bigger and even though they will be about three weeks younger then the plants I put in outdoor pots last year I am betting these will be bigger. I will be letting a couple of each of the four varieties go to seed this year so I should have seed if anyone is interested in trying this next season. By the way I am posting this with a small cigar burning in the ash tray next to me made from last seasons leaf!

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

April 11, 2015 at 4:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Tobacco update, Plants are now 8 weeks old and will be moved out to the greenhouse here in the next few days. They are just getting to big to stay on the rack in the window. The big picture has all four types of tobacco that I am growing this season together. From left to right we have the Connecticut broad leaf and Dominican these two are used for making cigars. The Connecticut is a very large leaf used for wrappers and the Dominican is a filler and can also be used as a binder. The nice thing about these two is they can be interchanged and used as a wrapper, binder and filler. These will give me a lot of taste options when making cigars. Next is the Burley and on the far right is the Virginia, these two are used for making cigarettes.

 

The second picture shows just how big the plants have grown in the past few weeks and you can see the little jar is now dwarfed by the leaves of the Connecticut plants. The growing experment still goes on as you can see tobacco plants in plastic cups that are filled with potting mix. They are good size plants but the ones growing in the net cups in water are noticeably larger.



 

 





Next step is to transplant into 16 oz cups and also some will go to 32 oz cups filled with potting mix, I am also going to transplant some into 3 inch net cups and see how they grow in water instead of potting mix. Overnight temperatures here are finally starting to stay above freezing so the greenhouse is a good place to let the leaf spread out and start getting used to cooler temperatures. I am hoping to plant in the ground and into planters around June first depending on the weather so we will try to up date once again before then so you can see how these guys are doing.

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

April 24, 2015 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Tobacco Leaf is coming up on ten weeks old and as you can see in the pictures the leaves are almost 8 inches long and the shelf's in the greenhouse are full of plants. Looking at least three weeks before plants are moved out into the garden and by then I am sure the floor of the greenhouse will be covered in plants as they out grow the shelves. I still have thirty plants inside the house as I am comparing the growth between a constant heat inside and the fluctuation heat but more sunshine out in the greenhouse. Running out of space as I still am starting a lot of my garden vegetables and the tobacco is growing very well. Window sills in the greenhouse are already full of tomato plants that are hard to see behind all the tobacco.



 






Don't know where I am going to put the watermelon and pumpkin I have started. The plan is still to get the tobacco into the ground here in early June and some plants will also find containers on the deck and in a shaded area behind the greenhouse. Some more leaf will also be grown in a few other gardens so I will be able to compare how the plants like different conditions. The leaf in other gardens are going to be let go to flower as the growers want to use them as ornamental plants. Will update again before the leaf goes into the ground..

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

May 7, 2015 at 5:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Some what late in my tobacco update but things have been kind of out of whack around here. Here are a couple of pictures for you as you can see we have tobacco in the ground, four different types, six of each. Also here is a picture of the Gutter Garden which is five gallon pails with net cups in the bottom sitting on top of a rain gutter which is connected to a rain barrel and the level of water is regulated with a float. The back row is tobacco and the front row is vegetables. I am seeing how this kind of gardening compares with normal gardening. The big advantage of the gutter is I don't have to water and weeding is not needed. Harvest time should be early August for the tobacco but I will update again before then..



 

 

And yes the Maple trees are dropping seed everywhere!

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

June 13, 2015 at 2:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

What a difference a month makes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tobacco planted in the ground is growing fine and all four varieties are starting to look different then each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture shows the same tobacco plants growing in the rain gutter system, the plants are about twice as high and are already starting to grow flower buds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third picture is of three Connecticut broadleaf plants that are used for making wrappers. I am growing them in the constant shade behind the greenhouse in a gutter planter setup. Growing them in the shade is suppose to produce a finer smoother leaf that is used for the wrapper. These leaves are very smooth compared to the plants that are being grown in full sun. The hope was to start harvesting in early August but I think it will be more like the end of august. I have 55 plants growing this season in four locations so I am going to have a lot of leaf to dry and cure. Of course I have learned a lot so now I have some experience in doing this.

 

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

July 17, 2015 at 11:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

END OF JULY here and it is time to start thinking about harvesting the leaf. Several plants have flower tops on them and I have bagged one of each variety to prevent the flowers from being cross pollinated. This will give me all the seed I will ever need as each plant will give up thousands of seeds from the flower pods. The rest of the plants will have their flowers nipped off so they can't go to seed and we want the plants to send their energy to the leaf. The tobacco that I have grown in the garden is short and stocky and very full of nice size leaf. My shade plants are beyond what I was hoping for. Here is a picture of one of my granddaughters kneeling in the plants in the ground to show how big and wide they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next picture shows how tall the plants have grown in the water gutter system, the Dominican plant is well over 7 feet tall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I will start to harvest leaf here in a couple of weeks and hope this hot spell stays around, It will help the leaf to grow some more and will speed the drying time when I do harvest. Kind of walking a fine line of letting leaf grow in the heat or harvest and use the heat for drying. For those of you still following along it is a long process and a interesting hobby that really does become a year long and years long process.

 

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

July 30, 2015 at 2:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

August 9th and it is time to start the leaf harvest. The Burley leaf is starting to take on a yellow tinge and since I have so much leaf to harvest this year I am going to start with the Burley. The Burley is used in making cigarette tobacco and it is much easier to dry and cure then the leaf I have grown for making cigars. Since this leaf is going to be shredded we are not worried about any holes or tears in the leaf. Since I have 7 plants at home here I am going to start harvesting and get a jump on the drying season. I should be able to get from 15 to 20 leafs per plant. Here is a picture of some of the big leaf from one plant that is over 26 inches long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the different leaf (four kinds ) and different dates I will be drying I had to come up with a system. I am using colored rubber bands to tell me what kind of leaf I am drying and then I add a colored paper clip that I hang the plant on to tell me what date. Not so important on the Burley and Virginia tobacco that is used for making cigarettes but it will make a difference when I hang the Cigar leaf. Before the leaf can be hung to dry I take a 3" brush and brush off dirt and any bugs that are on the underside of the leaf, the leaf does get very tacky and traps small bugs which of course we don't want to smoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last picture shows how we hang the tobacco to dry. This year I hung a section of kennel panel in the roof of my wood shop. I can then hang the leaf one at a time from the paper clips. I find this gives me the best drying as the leaves do not touch each other and with the doors open on the shop it as acts as a wind tunnel giving me plenty of air movement yet keeping the leaf out of the rain and direct sunshine. Not like the big boys do it in their big drying barns but works for me on my small scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I just need to harvest and dry my leaf, I am going to have somewhere around a thousands leafs and I have no idea what that will translate into as pounds. Will let you see what it looks like in a future update!

 

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

August 9, 2015 at 2:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Well the last of my leaf has been harvested and is now hanging in either the wood shop or the greenhouse. I have 600 hundred leaf as the three other guys who are growing some of my plants have all decided that they want to continue the process and harvest and dry their own plants. I might have gotten three other guys to take up tobacco growing as a hobby. I keep learning and experimenting with the tobacco and I have changed up a few things having learn from drying tobacco last season. This year I have 400 leaf hanging in the shop ceiling with about 250 of them being big leaf and hung one at a time. Another 150 leaf are being hung from racks that are resting on top of the tresses. These are smaller leaf that will be used in cigs or as filler leaf in cigars. Here is a picture of what leaf looks like in various stages of color curing.


 

Another 200 leaf are being hung in the greenhouse this is the large shade Connecticut that is used for a wrapper shown here.



 

Here is the cigar leaf being hung in the green house.



 

The leaf drying in the wood shop is all natural, just the breeze coming thru the doors to air dry the leaf, this should take anywhere from 4 to as long as 8 weeks to finish. The stem of the leaf needs to be completely dry before the leaf can be stored to age. The greenhouse leaf is being dried a little differently as I can control the heat in the green house and also the humidity. I am also using a blower to circulate the heated air to speed in the drying time and will in a few weeks add heat to speed the aging of the cigar tobacco. This is something new I am trying as I want to be able to use this leaf in the next year rolling some cigars and I will have enough leaf that I can keep aging the leaf in storage. Don't see much more in updates for awhile as this is all about controlled drying now.

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

August 19, 2015 at 2:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

 

September 6th

 

Early September update. Tobacco is well on its way color curing both in the greenhouse and in the wood shop. Here is a picture of the leaf in the shop that has been hanging now for 2-4 weeks depending on when it was harvested.

 

 

 

 

A surprise of sorts is that the small leaf that was left on the plants in the ground have with all of this late summer heat and rain continued to grow and are reaching harvesting size themselves. I will let them grow a few more weeks and harvest them. I did harvest my small mammoth leaf late last season so I should be able to cure these last bonus leafs.

 

 

 

 

As the drying continues I will start to condense the leaf in the greenhouse so I can add some more leaf to dry in there. I am going to just let the leaf in the shop hang for now but as it gets colder I will no longer be leaving the doors open. The leaf in the shop is pretty much all Burley and Virginia tobacco for making cigarettes and it dries quicker and does not need to go through the aging process that the cigar leaf in the greenhouse is getting. ( Higher humidity and heat ) The bagged flower tops are starting to die off and I should be harvesting seed pods here in another month or so. If I decide to grow again next season I will have all the seed I need.

 

 

 

Thousands of seeds in them brown pods!

 

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

September 6, 2015 at 2:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Well now that we have shown how to grow tobacco and gave you an idea on how to dry it I guess it is time to show you how to make cigarettes. Half of the tobacco leaf that I grew this year will be used in making pipe tobacco which is used for rolling your own home grown cigarettes. The rest of the leaf I will be rolling my own cigars but that is a much longer process curing the leaf. The leaf for cigarettes can be smoked by some as soon as it dry and is color cured. I have some leaf here that has been drying for about six weeks and is dry enough to be smoked by itself but is better if it is mixed in with some store bought pipe tobacco.

 

A typical cigarette mix is 50/50 Barley and Virginia here are two leafs ready to be processed.

 

 

First thing we do is remove the main stem, the old school way of doing this is to grab the leaf by the tip and pull the stem out a couple of inches then holding the leaf wrap the stem around your hand and it peels right out, the leafs look like this with the stems now removed.

 

 

Next we need to shred the leaf, you can buy a cigarette shredder or if you have lots of time on your hands you can cut the leaf with a scissors. I prefer to borrow the wife's pasta maker and send the leaf through the fettuccine cutters a few times. (Tip here when you do your shredding the leaf should be a little crispy, if it is limp the leaf will get caught up in the cutter and you will find yourself spending a lot of time cleaning the pasta cutter up so it is useable by the wife again)

 

 

The leaf should look something like this, you have to practice as to how many times through the shredder you send the leaf. If you shred the leaf to small it is hard to make ciggs with a machine and if not shredded enough it will not interweave with itself and hold a fire in your finish cigarette.

 

[

 

If you did this right you will have a few more tests to see if it all came together. One is the burn test, if you lite the cigarette and it stays lit it is dry enough. When you tap the end of the ash of and the cig stays lit then you have passed the proper amount of shredding. Taste test is next and the longer you let the leaf age the better the smoke will be. If it is harsh then it needs to sit and dry longer. Now that you have done all of this you can play with your mix 50/50 or 75/25 or just use the leaf you grew to extend your store bought pipe tobacco. A good starting point is a large handful to a store bought bag if you are mixing.

 

 

 

My leaf for cigars is hanging in the greenhouse getting a lot of humidity and heat. I expect it will be boxed up here in a couple of months and put away to cure before I can start rolling some cigars from it. It looks like I will be growing more tobacco next season. Already planning on growing some different cigar leaf to experiment with.

 

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

September 24, 2015 at 4:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

I forgot to add that 50/50 Virginia and Burley is a common blend for making cigarettes that you can also add in some Turkish leaf which turns the blend into a mix that taste a lot like a camel. My son smokes Camels and our local tobacco shop sells leaf by the ounce. When you are shredding leaf one at a time this lets you play with combo with out wasting a lot of leaf. I have been using the Small Black Mammoth that I grew last year with some store bought Lemon leaf for a real decent pipe tobacco mix as an example.

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

September 25, 2015 at 5:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Has been awhile since I updated this thread so I took a few pictures to get you up to date. The first one here is off a HAND of tobacco. This is a way of storing your tobacco and making it easier to handle. I take 10-15 leaves when they are moist enough to handle with out crumbling and lay them out on a table. I then smooth them out by hand and stack them on top of each other. A smaller leaf of the same tobacco is then wrapped around the top of the stems. This holds the HAND together. I throw a rubber band around the top of the hand and add a small tag to tell me when I made the hand and what it is. The hands are then stored in plastic totes that have a seal on the lid. I keep track of the humidity inside the totes and try to keep it as close as I can to the magic 70/70 Temperature and Humidity.

 

 

Here is a picture of several hands from a tub of Virginia Tobacco which will be used I hope in a few more months for pipe tobacco / cigarette.

 

 

 

I check the tubs once a week and they are very strong smelling as they cure. I expect the Connecticut and Dominican will take more then a year before I can start playing with them for cigars. The Burley and Virginia colored cured quite nicely and the Connecticut leaf is a light shade of brown. The Dominican leaf is either very dark or still green turning slowly.

 

 

 

 

I still have some more leaf out in the greenhouse that I am letting age out there and I did take about a dozen plants that still had a lot of leaf on them and nailed them upside down in the boat house. I am waiting to see If they will dry out over the winter. So the leaf has now been drying for about four months and we will check back and let you know how it is going. The Small Black Mammoth leaf that I grew last year is almost gone as I have been shredding it up and mixing it with pipe tobacco. Everyone who taste it says it smells like a cigar so I may grow some more of it next season.

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

December 3, 2015 at 1:44 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bobby Bass
Site Owner
Posts: 222

Update: well the tobacco has been in sealed bins for the past 7 months kept as close to 70 degrees and 70% humidity. This afternoon I shredded about a dozen leaves making a blend of Virginia and Burley for cigarettes. I was right on for shredding as if the leaf is to damp it will clog the shredder or to dry and it because to brittle and turns to powder. Rolled a cigarette for a test and it past the tests, It packed just right, it lit, it stayed lite and the ash fell out but continue to burn on the cigarette. It was also a surprisingly mild smoke, I am not a cigarette smoker but could easily fill my lungs and hold it. Does have a buzz too so the nicotine level is there. Originally the thought was to grow this and then cut it with store bought tobacco but the wife said it was good enough to stand alone. Now the batch should only get better as the leaf continues to age, will only shred what is needed.

 

Next up is some cigars that is what I really grew the leaf for, I am going to roll a few of them and then they will go in to a humidor to age. 7 month leaf is too young but I will of course take a few puffs to find out what it tastes like, I expect maybe at a year they will be good enough to smoke we will see. Of course I have few buddies that will smoke a roll up newspaper so they will be my testers. I was on the fence as to growing more leaf this summer but I am going to go ahead and plant some, The hobby continues..


Here is a picture of the finished product, about 2.5 cups of tobacco from fifteen leafs, I have about 300 leaves to process for tobacco and another 300 for cigar leaf.


 

--

In order to fish all day you have to start in the morning!

 In memory of Bud and now Barney ahead of me checking out the trail.

March 13, 2016 at 9:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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