Growing Tobacco is a centuries old activity. Tobacco was named after the
tobacco tube, which was the tube used by Caribbean natives to smoke the crushed
leaves of the plant. This custom was one of the discoveries made by Christopher
Columbus during his historic voyage of 1492.
Tobacco, once one of the most popular of all herbs, has had some bad press during the last decades. And for a good reason, misused it smells horrible, and is associated with more diseases than you can imagine. The use the Indians had for it is perhaps a sign of the overindulgence of our society. Like Coca we miss the social structures for a in society embedded non invasive use.
Today most tobacco is grown commercially, yet the tobacco plant can be grown privately both for personal use and for use as an ornamental plant. Although most commercial tobacco is grown in warm climates, flower and fruit gardening guides home gardeners from cooler areas can also successfully grow the plant.
Tobacco is a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family that also includes tomatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. Growing it is very similar to growing tomatoes. One of the smallest plant seeds, an ounce of tobacco seed is probably a lifetime supply for most flower and fruit gardening guides home gardeners, containing up to 300,000 individual seeds. In fact, one teaspoon of tobacco seed is enough to grow six acres of tobacco.
Probably the most complex part of growing tobacco is starting the seed properly. Because tobacco seed is so small, it needs to be started indoors. Tobacco seed has three requirements for germination: light, moisture, and a temperature of at least 65F.
It is important to use seed compost rather than regular potting mix to start tobacco seed. Because the seed needs light to germinate, it is placed on top of the compost. Tobacco plants feed heavily on nitrogen and potash but sprouting seeds don't need the nutrients and scorch when placed on nutrient rich potting soil. Seed composts are low in nutrients.
Growing and tending the tobacco Seedlings
Four to six weeks before the last frost, place seeds on top of moist, but well-drained seed compost. An easy way to spread the seed evenly is to mix it with two parts of sand to one part of seeds. Although seeds need to be kept moist, to prevent washing them into the soil, either use a misting bottle or keep the compost moist with a wick system. To keep seeds from scorching in bright sunlight, filter your seed container by covering it with a sheet of light paper.
When seedlings reach six to eight inches, transplant them to your garden when all danger of frost is past. The tobacco plant needs full sun to grow broad leaves. Plants grown in partial shade will produce slender leaves. Garden transplants should be spaced about two feet apart in rows that are three feet apart. Keep transplants from drying out by transplanting either on a cloudy day or in the evening. Tobacco transplants should be watered thoroughly after planting and daily until the plant is well established.
When growing tobacco for harvesting, remove both flowers and suckers from your
plants to enable the plant to devote its energy to growing large leaves. Your
tobacco will be ready to harvest and cure about 90 days after germination.