Grow Your Own Tobacco






 Stop paying ridiculous prices for your cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco, by growing your own tobacco, you can smoke for about $10.00 a week or less. Surprisingly, not many people know that's it's perfectly legal to grow your own tobacco for ones own consumption. Take a look at some of the free extras you get when you buy ready-made tobacco products.


June 4 2014


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Tobacco is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. This family includes tomato, pepper, eggplant, Irish potato, and a number of other plants. Tobacco belongs to the genus Nicotiana, and almost all commercial tobacco is of the tabacum species. The Nicotiana rustica species was commonly used by American Indians and may still be used for ceremonial purposes in some areas. Many homeowners wish to grow a few plants of tobacco in their yard or garden for ornamental purposes or for personal use. Tobacco plants are usually no more difficult to grow than many other garden plants. 

Canadian Law on growing tobacco

(i) the product is for their personal use or that of the members of their family who reside with the individual and who are 18 years of age or older, and,
(ii) the quantity of product manufactured in any year does not exceed 15 kg for the individual and each member of the individual’s family who resides with the individual and who is 18 years of age or older.

US Regulations on Growing your own Tobacco:

There is no federal regulation for the amount of tobacco homegrowers can grow for personal use but that the department of agriculture of the state in which the tobacco may be grown might have some restrictions...and to check with that state government agency

Origin  of Tobacco

The tobacco plant is believed to be widely spread in America since the 1st Century. The written history of cigarettes dates back to the early 16th century when Spaniards conquerors witnessed the Aztec Indians smoking an ancient cigarette, it was a cane or reed tube stuffed with tobacco. It was the Spaniards who introduced the cigar in the old world. Early in the 16th century, beggars of Seville picked up discarded cigar butts, shredded the contexts rolled them back in paper and termed those as cigarillos.Cigarettes spread through Europe in the wake of the Napoleonic wars and became common towards the middle of the century.A cigarette factory was established in 1853 but it was after the Crimean war where British got the first taste of cigarettes, which was the outset of cigarette’s immense upcoming popularity. The French were the people who gave cigarettes their present name, which meant ‘little cigar’.In 1882, the cigarette was a specialty item made by hand, sold for a penny apiece, and very much the stepchild of other tobacco products. However, that was about to change.An automated cigarette rolling machine, developed by 18-year-old James Bonsack, was put into use in 1883 and revolutionized cigarette production. The retail price was cut in half, and volume, which in premachine days had never exceeded 500 million, leaped to 10 billion by 1910. American Tobacco was able to take advantage of this new technology and, like Standard Oil, was such a success that it, too, and was broken up by the feds in 1911.In the 1840s the cigarette industry was born, although cigarettes were still rolled by hand, mainly by women. In 1881 the cigarette-rolling machine was invented, increasing production exponentially. Offering a cigarette and a light became a ritual of sociability. The two World Wars helped spread the habit widely.During the 1920s women took up smoking as a sign of modernity. The development of mass media and advertising in the late 19th and 20th Century played a decisive role in securing the popularity of cigarettes. Today 93 percent of the world's tobacco is consumed as cigarettes.

Tobacco Origin Myth:

Huron Indian myth has it that in ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she traveled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco.


After Ma'una (Earthmaker) created the world, he fashioned all the living things that inhabit it: the birds, the animals, and the insects. To each of these he assigned a purpose, and ever after they have lived in pursuit of the ends they were given. When he had done with this, Ma'una created the two-legged walkers. He gave them free minds with which they could on their own discover their Creator and by which they could learn to do things for themselves. Yet Ma'una did not create the two-legged walkers with some specific purpose that they were to fulfill. This they had to find for themselves with their free minds.

It saddened Ma'una to see that the creatures with free mind were the lowest and weakest of all creatures, so he set out to bring some balance to the cadenza of his creation. Ma'una created a special plant which he gave to the two-legged walkers in order that they might obtains blessings through it. This plant was tobacco. Because of the odor of the smoke of this plant, Ma'una instilled in all other creatures a desire for it. He said to all the spirits, "Whenever the two-legged walkers offer you so much as a pipe full of tobacco, you are going to grant their wishes even before you have taken in the smell of its incense. You must bless them with what they request even before you receive their offering. Neither shall you have the power to take the tobacco from him, no matter what forces lie at your disposal. I, Ma'una, cannot take this gift from them. This is my promise.

  •  Tobacco Types


      Virginia Tobacco     Virginia in bloom      Native American             Burley                       Turkish               Monte Calm Brun

    Oriental tobacco: A variety of tobaccos, grown in Turkey, the Balkans, and Russia. The best known types are Izmir, Samsun, Yedidje, Cavella and Bursa. A common characteristic is a dusty, dry and sometimes slightly sourish aroma. Some of them are also used in "exotic" cigarettes from Egypt and other Arab country's

    Burley: Burley and Virginia leaves are the same size, about 20-cm to 50 cm long, but their properties and consistency differ. The colour of Burley tobacco ranges from light brown to dark brown.Burley is the second main type of tobacco used for pipe tobacco. It is known for having very low sugar content, and its leaves often contain no natural sugar. Burley tobaccos have a robust aroma, burn well in the pipe and carry a slight hint of cocoa in its taste; but it does not have the sweet taste of Virginia tobaccos. Burley tobacco is harvested when the leaves lose their suppleness, so the leaves are green when the harvesting begins. The plants are harvested whole, and hung to dry in barns sheltered from sunlight. No warm air is used, but the amount of fresh air can be adjusted to achieve the perfect drying conditions. The normal drying method used for Burley tobaccos is called air curing. There are other methods of drying Burley tobacco, as used on the famous Kentucky tobacco. After air curing, this Burley is then fire-cured. A fire giving off a thick smoke is built in the barn, and the leaves absorb the aromatics in the smoke. Kentucky tobacco comes originally from the American state of the same name, but it is also cultivated in other parts of the world, such as Malawi.

    Virginia: Virginia and Oriental tobacco belong to the same type, as they both have high sugar and aromatic content. Virginia has a pH value of about 4.5, which in chemical terms means sour. Burley has a pH value of about 7, or neutral. These main types are broken down into various subtypes, which are described below. Throughout history Virginia tobacco has been highly valued, and today it is the most widely used base tobacco in pipe tobacco mixtures. The popularity of Virginia is owing to the high natural sugar and aromatic content in its leaves. These natural ingredients give Virginia tobacco its sweet and aromatic taste. The Virginia plant develops leaves 20 cm to 50 cm long. Virginia tobacco is harvested in several stages, as the leaves are plucked individually when they are ripe. The ripening takes place on the plant, and the leaves are harvested when they take on a yellowish color. After being picked, they are gathered in bundles (10-12 leaves per bundle) and hung on rods in barns to dry. Most Virginia tobacco is flue-cured (dried by warm air), which means that the temperature during the five-day drying process slowly rises to about 80 degrees Celsius. Flue curing is a precisely controlled drying process in which the relation between temperature and air humidity draws out the natural qualities of Virginia tobacco. The colour in flue-cured Virginia leaves range from light yellow to mahogany.

    Latakia: Latakia is also a Virginia-type tobacco, and it comes originally from Syria. The leaves grow close the ground, and when they are ripe, they are harvested individually, hung on rods and dried by the sun-curing method. fterwards, Latakia is treated differently than other Virginia types: it is also fire-cured (dried over an open fire). The leaves are exposed to smoke from the fire and thus absorb aromatics from the smoke. This is the quality that makes Latakia special. Latakia tobacco’s taste can vary depending on the type of wood used to make the fire. Latakia is also a tobacco we use only as seasoning, because it is very strong, spicy and unpleasant to smoke in a pure form.

    Havana: Nicotiana tabacum L.
    Havana is an attractive, productive plant that reaches about five feet tall and produces pretty, pink, trumpet-shaped flowers. There are many numbered varieties of Havana tobaccos. Along with being an attractive ornamental annual, Havana is a variety that is used for cigars and for chewing.


    Harvesting Tobacco: Tobacco is harvested in one of two ways. In the oldest method the entire plant is harvested at once by cutting off the stalk at the ground with a curved knife. In the nineteenth century; bright tobacco began to be harvested by pulling individual leaves off the stalk as they ripened, the leaves ripen from the ground upwards, so tobacco may go through several  "pullings" before the tobacco is entirely harvested "Cropping" is the term for pulling leaves off tobacco.The first crop at the very bottom of the stalks are called "sand lugs" as they are often against the ground and are coated with dirt splashed up when it rains.


    Curing  Tobacco farmers refer to the drying of the leaf as curing. It does not involve any fermenting or sweating of the leaf. Sometimes this is referred to as color curing.

    Sun-cured Tobacco  A comparatively small amount of tobacco is sun-cured. Leaves are exposed to the sun to remove most of their moisture before being air-cured to complete the process. Of all sun-cured tobaccos, the best known are the so-called Oriental tobaccos of Turkey , Greece , Yugoslavia , and Balkans. Oriental tobaccos are stored in bales and allowed to ferment. After storage, moisture is added to this type of tobacco. Pure Turkish cigarettes contain 100% unblended Oriental tobacco or blended, Oriental tobacco is mostly used in cigarettes, cigars, pipe, snuff or chewing tobacco.


    Air curing  This is simply drying (curing) the leaf by hanging it in the open air, usually in a barn. It usually takes about two months. It produces a brown, tan or red leaf with almost no sugars in it.




    Fermenting also called sweating, This is the process by which ammonia is released from the leaf to make it sociable. It can be done by heaping the tobacco into large piles called pylons that raise the temperature and humidity or by use of a kiln with a heater and humidifier. Under the raised temperature and humidity enzymes in the leaf cause it to ferment. It is not necessary to spray a fermenting solution on the leaf as some suggest the enzymes will do it naturally. Sometimes this is also referred to as curing. This system of maturing leaf came from the days when tobacco was shipped by sail. The ship would sit in port for a few weeks, very humid and bails stacked tight together. When the tobacco reached it's destination it was found to smell and taste sweeter. You could use the curing chamber for this job after the initial curing, cut back the heat and humidity and close off the flu but keep the small fan running.

    Fermenting: There are two methods of fermenting, stacking and kiln fermenting.

    The stacking  method is used by large growers, stacks of tobacco weighing around 100 lbs are wrapped in burlap and allowed to "sweat" the internal temp is closely monitored and when it reaches 140 degrees the stack is broken down to release tar, ammonia, and nicotine, the stack is torn down and rebuilt several times until the temp will no longer reach 110 degrees, the stems are stripped and stacked in a cooler place (65 degrees to age for a time 6 weeks to 6 years).

    Kiln fermenting:  is what the smaller grower must use if he or she wants to smoke any time soon, the kiln is a small-insulated container with an artificial heat source that helps to simulate the fermentation,  the leaves are placed in the kiln with the lid shut heat and humidity are carefully controlled (temp 100 to 130 degrees and 65 to 70% humidity) the kiln is left on 24 hours a day, kiln fermenting lasts about 4 to 6 weeks, the relative humidity must be carefully maintained during this time, a short aging period will follow of 4 to 6 weeks or longer until the leaves can either be rolled into cigars or cut for cigarette  pipe or chewing tobacco. 

    Free Plans for building your own Wooden Tobacco Curing Kiln

    Tobacco tips:

    (1) If the leaf is too dry, lower the heat, too wet raise the heat to max 130f. If still too wet lower the humidity. 

    (2) If the leaves are moist they will mold in about two or three days. If you put a hygrometer in the chamber you will find that at 70 percent relative humidity they will be very pliable but dry. That is what you need

    (3) The temperatures like 95 degrees F for one month, 110-115 F digress for one to two months. Then if I want a darker leaf 120-125 F degrees for one or more months depending on the type of leaf. not over 130 degrees F. the natural enzymes in the leaf causing the fermentation may stop working. I put a thermometer and hygrometer combination inside. They only cost a few dollars from a local home improvement store.

    Aging: Remember aging will always improve a tobacco, and any tobacco leaves can be kiln cured if it has been properly stored (humidity no lower than 50% to 65%). Smoking uncured tobacco is unpleasant and dangerous as the nicotine and ammonia contained can be fatally high, not to mention it will taste like your smoking leaves from your front yard.


    Humectants: Humectants account for approximately 3.76% of the weight of a roll-your-own cigarette. They are used to ensure freshness of fine cut tobacco. Imperial’s brands of fine-cut tobacco contain humectants that are often used in the making of prepared foods: glycerin (2.74%), invert sugar and propylene glycol.

    To prevent fine cut tobacco from getting moldy, a preservative is used in the production process. Imperial Tobacco Canada uses potassium sorbate, a preservative also used in the making of prepared foods. 
    Potassium sorbate is used as a mold, bacterial and yeast inhibitor and as a fungistatic agent in foods. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical, tobacco and flavoring products. In wines, it is to prevent the secondary fermentation of residual sugar.

    Seedlings care:

    I have always kept my seedlings covered in the propagator for the first 2 weeks to make sure they don't loose moisture to quickly. The soil almost always gets some mold growing on it but it has never hurt the plants. The plastic propagator lid will be covered with condensation on the inside. For the first few weeks the seedlings don't have much of a root going down deep. What they have are small probes going in all directions.  You can see them if you look real close. They look like thick white hairs. If those roots dry out the plant die even if you have watered them. I look for roots not leaf, the single strand root will not support a plant if there is a sudden change in temperature. I keep the lid on the propagator for at least 4 weeks, by then there are multi strands of root and at least 6 leafs. Around the 2nd or 3rd week I also raise up the lid of the propagator about 1/2 inch, so some of the moisture can escape.

    Growing in Pots;

    Even though Tobacco plants like a lot of space, they can be grown successfully in pots. Use the largest size pot you can reasonably accommodate, and give them plenty of rich compost. In pots they will require regular watering during the hottest part of the Summer months, sometimes daily,  I have successfully grown  in 5 Gal pots.

    Nutrient imbalances in tobacco     Problems with tobacco

    Organic Pesticide:  Tobacco dust is ideal for making a great natural pesticide for tobacco plants  .It is also very effective sprinkled around the base of plants. Tobacco plants suffer from several diseases and are attacked by several leaf chewers. I recommend using this. Be cautious not to use any form of systemic insecticide that will penetrate the leaf. Remember, you may be chewing or smoking this plant and you do not want to be ingesting chemical residues. For a truly natural pesticide, use tobacco dust  mixing one teaspoon tobacco dust, one teaspoon of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap to one gallon of water. (use a soap like Ivory as it does not contain any LYE)  which can burn your plants.

    Saving Seed: If its only 1 type plant you have then just leave 1 or 2 plants to set seed and wait for the flowers to pollinate themselves and produce seed pods, after the seed pods turn brown and become a dry and brittle, you can take the seeds off by breaking off the top of the seed pod .If you have different types of plants that you will want to save seeds from. Then I would suggest you bag the flowers before they bloom with a fine mesh or veil that you can buy at Walmart or any fabric store, this will prevent insects/bees from cross pollinating the plants and keep them from becoming hybrids and it will also allow airflow to the flowers.

    Tobacco Seed Cleaning: After harvesting the tobacco seed pods, they are then allowed to dry.
    After completely dry, the capsules are threshed and sieved through US Standard Laboratory Sieves. 10 and 20 mesh (e.g. 100 and 400 holes per square inch respectively) are used to remove all the coarse materials such as chaff, petals, and small stems. The resulting seed is then allowed to dry for several more days until a moisture content of and five percent is achieved. The seed is then cleaned by sieving with a 30 mesh sieve and winnowed using a running fan.
    The sieve catches the small chaff particles and the wind separates out the immature and shriveled seed as well as fine particles of dust or chaff. The seed is finally sieved using a 40-mesh sieve. The seed that remains in the sieve is the good seed.

     Excellent Video information on blending

    Blending: Blend tobaccos to your own taste. I think you will find that, once you try blending, you can achieve some amazing variations that just may provide you with that flavor and level of satisfaction you've always been looking for. Pipe smokers have for centuries been blending various tobaccos to suit a particular mood or simply to vary a flavor that has suddenly grown tedious. Of course, you can and should create your own. Simply pick among several tobaccos that you like and combine them in small amounts at first. For instance, consider tobaccos you really like the flavor of but that are too strong to smoke by themselves in combinations with those that are too mild and need some more flavor.




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